It seems that since Tropical Storm Irene came through on August 28th, American Goldfinches at my house had been non-existent. Many of our customers were relaying the same experience. The goldies and other birds fed heavily during the brunt of the storm, getting soaked to the skin in the process. But it seems that since then, they were gone!
Feeder activity as a whole has been slow this fall, with only a scattering of Black-capped Chickadees, 2-3 Hairy Woodpeckers, and an occasional wave of migrating Dark-eyed Juncos being anything close to "regular" at the feeders. Even the Blue Jays were scarce!
Then, on my first Project FeederWatch count day, they reappeared! A group of 3 stopped by initially, and for the next week, they continued with a daily visit. The group has grown to 5, not only visiting the yard, but feeding on the new window tray feeder and catch-a-seed tray. On Thursday, I saw a Pine Siskin in their midst as well.
During the winter months, goldfinches in my yard are not a certainty. These active birds may leave the area during the winter, especially if they get edged out by large numbers of irruptive winter finches like redpolls or siskins. But for now, I'm glad they're back, hopefully leading the charge of birds back to my feeder. But keep it quiet, I don't want to jinx it!