The American goldfinch (Spinus tristis), like many animals, changes colors over the course of a year. In the summer, male goldfinches dress in bright gold with black patches on their wings and head – like an avian superhero. When winter comes, the goldfinch molts those bright feathers and assumes his mild-mannered alter ego again. Only a little patch of yellow on his throat remains.

The female goldfinch (pictured) isn’t as flamboyant as her partner in the summer. But she’ll also change into grayish brown plumage for winter.

Editor’s notes: Interested in #SciArt? Jennifer Landin will present “Sketching Nature: Biological Illustration in History” at the NC Botanical Garden’s Bartram Exhibit on Thursday, September 11, from 12-1p.

Also, the Guild of Natural Science Illustrators (Jennifer is president of the Carolinas chapter) will host a “Paint-Out” at the NC Botanical Gardens this Saturday (September 13, 10am-3pm [rain date = September 20]) to commemorate William Bartram’s exploration across the Southeastern US. More than a dozen artists will paint plants and landscapes on site.