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The state bird of Iowa is the Eastern goldfinch, which is also known as the American goldfinch and wild canary. This bird can be found in gardens, orchards, fields, riparian woodlands and meadows. It is easily attracted to feeders placed in a garden. These birds are primarily granivores, meaning that they are mainly adapted to consume seed. They also feed on other things such as, ragweed, dandelion, thistle, alder and sunflower.
One of the characteristics of the Eastern goldfinch is its exhibition of sexual dismorphism, which refers to a pronounced characteristic or physical difference between the male and female of the species. Male Eastern goldfinches display a brighter color than the females, especially during the mating season to make themselves more attractive. In mating season, the females have a dull brown-yellow color that only brightens marginally, while the males have a vivid yellow color. Several males might find themselves competing for the attention of a lone female, and the one with the brighter feathers stands a better chance of winning her attention. Eastern goldfinches are mainly monogamous, producing only one brood each year.
The state bird of Iowa is the only finch in its subfamily, cardueline, to completely molt in the autumn and spring. During the spring molt, the feathers of the male turn a lemon-yellow color. The color is as a result of carotenoid pigments contained in the plant materials in its diet. Female Eastern goldfinches do not exhibit a bright plumage before or after the molt. After the spring molt, this bird reveals a brownish-yellow plumage, and after the autumn molt, the feathers are an olive color in both sexes. The only difference is the presence of yellow shoulder patches in the males.
The Eastern goldfinch makes its nest in forked branches at least 10 feet (approximately 3 meters) above the ground. Their nests are carefully and elaborately made with plants material, which they weave into the desired shape. After weaving the nest, the Eastern goldfinch lines the nest with milkweed or thistle down for insulation.
The Iowa Senate approved the Easter goldfinch as the official state bird on 22 March 1933. The reason why the Eastern goldfinch was selected as the state bird of Iowa is because it is common in many parts of Iowa, especially during the winter. It is a migratory bird and is also the state bird of Iowa and Washington.