Eastern Shore life is relaxing and beautiful, that is after we sit down for the day! Over the past few years, we have put in endless hours on our Kent Island farm to create the perfect environment for native plants and animals, including the Eastern Goldfinch or better known as the American Goldfinch. Our bees produce two types of our Eastern Shore Honey, thanks to our efforts of planting sources of nectar. To share our paradise with you, we’re publishing our Eastern Shore Life series to spotlight activities on the farm.
Eastern Goldfinch on the Farm
One of our most colorful visitors is the Eastern American Goldfinch. These bright little birds love flowers and will flock on the seed-heads once the plants finish blooming. On the farm, the birds come in droves to feed, and their bright songs add ambiance to the shoreline. Goldfinches have a distinct “rollercoaster” flight pattern, where they dip up and down in the air as they fly. This bouncy flight pattern makes them easy to spot from a distance, as do their bright color and surprisingly loud call.
The Eastern Goldfinch stay on the Eastern Shore year-round but are most plentiful during the summer and fall when food sources are the most abundant. On the farm, we installed around 20 acres of native wildflowers and removed hundreds of non-native plants. Bee balm and daisies make up a huge portion of our meadows, and thistle grows wild in huge swaths. Coneflowers are also a favorite of finches-they produce huge amounts of seed that ripens in the fall. This provides a food source for the birds from October through the cold months when other food can be scarce.
Shasta daisies, while not a native plant, are still beautiful and give a source of food to insects. Native coreopsis (the bright yellow flowers) are tough and plentiful. These blossoms drop loads of seed and can spread rapidly. Eastern goldfinches also feed on these, and it’s quite a show to watch them dangle off the spindly branches to pluck the seeds from the spent buds.
Goldfinches love Black-eyed Susans. The Maryland state flower grows wild on our farm, forming large clumps of dark green foliage. Blooming from the start of July to the fall, you can find all sorts of critters on the flowers. Honeybees love them, and so do butterflies! Black-eyed Susans provide another food source in the fall for native birds.
Creating your own Eastern Shore Life
For information on the best native wildflowers and how to grow them, visit Tips Bulletin or your favorite local nursery. Reintroducing native plants to your property only helps to increase its beauty and the health of the ecosystem, and will provide you with a carefree landscape for years to come.