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Pinkfinch (A Pink Goldfinch) in Ontario

December 12, 2010

FeederWatchers regularly submit photos of odd-looking birds, but this pink American Goldfinch appearing at the feeders of Terri Theakston in Oro Station, Ontario really caught our eye. According to Terri, “When I first spotted this Goldfinch it disappeared as quickly as it came and I thought ‘nobody is going to believe me when I tell them I saw a pink coloured goldfinch’.” Terri grabbed a camera and continued to watch the feeders until the bird reappeared, providing the proof to quiet the doubters.

American Goldfinch with pinkish wash.

What caused this bird to turn pink? Most likely, the coloration is influenced by something unusual in the bird’s diet when it was growing new feathers. Coloration in finches is influenced by carotenoid pigments that come from eating foods (seeds and berries, mostly) that are rich in these pigments. Carotenoid pigments are what make most male House Finches red and American Goldfinches yellow. Birds consuming foods that are richer in carotenoid pigments will deposit more of these pigments in their growing feathers. The more pigments in the diet, the more colorful the bird will become, and, most likely, the more attractive it will be to the opposite sex. Read more on color variation in House Finches.

Terri Theakston’s unusual goldfinch.

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