I and the BirdOnce every four years, this nation and quite possibly a nervous world turns its eyes to Iowa. That politically fraught period is now upon us as both Democratic and Republican candidates vie for attention in the Iowa Caucus, traditionally the first major electoral event of the nominating process for President of the United States. Lest we forget about the attributes that make the Hawkeye State worthy of attention even in non-primary years, let’s take this opportunity to admire the Iowa state bird, the American Goldfinch.

The American Goldfinch, Carduelis tristis, is a beautiful little bird, even smaller than your average sparrow. Although drab in winter, males spend much of the year resplendent in bright lemon-yellow plumage set off by black and white wings, cap, and tail. Females and immature males are more of a olive-yellow.

American Goldfinches are quite common throughout the U.S. These “wild canaries” are no strangers to backyard bird feeders, but they are also easy to spot in forests, fields, and wetlands. Goldfinch are gregarious, gathering in small groups or large flocks. They are also mostly monogamous. Their notable flight pattern, with its dips and rises, has been likened to a roller coaster.

Of course, Iowa is not the only state proud of its yellow-bird population. The American Goldfinch is also the state bird of New Jersey and Washington, although the latter state sometimes refers to it as the Willow Goldfinch. Fortunately, Iowa has other things going for it such as the residency of Moe of Iowa Voice. Moe’s got more on his mind than which candidate’s coffee klatch to attend this weekend; usually, his keen eye (and lens) is fixed on some compelling natural phenomenon or critter. In keeping with the spirit of the current American news cycle, please enjoy Moe’s highly insightful Iowa Caucuses Edition of I and the Bird #64.

While politics is up there with the multitude of topics on which people might disagree, there’s no debate about how phenomenal I and the Bird has been in 2007. Join us in ending this year in style as Amy Hooper, one of the birding industry’s finest professional editors takes the helm of IATB #65. In light of the coming holiday festivities, we’ve decided to push the deadline for the 12/27 edition up a bit, so send a link to your most fantastic recent blog post on birding or wild birds to me or Amy (ahooper AT bowtieinc DOT com) by Thursday, December 20! Now is also the time to reserve your hosting slot for 2008, particularly if you haven’t hosted IATB before.

Written by Mike
Mike is a leading authority in the field of standardized test preparation, but he's also a traveler who fully expects to see every bird in the world. Besides founding 10,000 Birds in 2003, Mike has also created a number of other entertaining but now extirpated nature blog resources, particularly the Nature Blog Network and I and the Bird.