Wednesday, April 29, 2015


Yellow has always been a favorite color of mine, especially in flowers and birds. After a long winter of grays and whites, it brings a lift to the spirit.

Yellow-Belly Sapsucker
Funny how such a cheerful color also has negative connotations, but it does. The color yellow has traditionally been associated with cowardice, treachery, inconstancy and jealousy. Interesting that in France, the doors of traitors’ homes were daubed with yellow. It’s also been used as an insult or challenge. “What are you, yellow bellied?”   I’ve even heard the term, “you yellow-bellied sapsucker!” That term originally applied to birds that literally have a yellow belly, like the yellow-bellied sapsucker. Later came to mean a term for a low down coward. Poor maligned bird.  
We do have Yellow-Belly Sapsuckers in Missouri and they forage on trees in forests, orchards, and parks for insects and they also eat fruits, nuts, and berries. Sapsuckers are woodpeckers that drill small, closely spaced holes in trees to reach the sap and insects drawn to the sap. They aren’t bright yellow on the bellies but more of a light yellow wash.

American Golden Finches Male and female at the feeder
Missouri, like many other places, do have bright yellow Goldfinches. We do have them year round although there is an influx of them in March and April.  I smile every time I see them in the trees or at the feeders and they’re like flying yellow flowers. Goldfinches pair up and begin nesting in July and August when the soft milkweed and thistles begin to bloom. They like to use thistle silk for their nests. I keep a feeder with thistle and other goodies for the finches.  I love the contrast of seeing the yellow finches and red cardinals at the feeders.

We also have Eastern Meadowlarks. Very unassuming colored bird and blend right into brown underbrush. In the winter they're much easier to spot against the snow. Like the sapsucker, they’re not obviously yellow, just their bellies.  They’re here year round and I actually see them more in winter as they forage in the fields but I hear them singing throughout the warm season.

Another bright yellow bird that I first mistook for a Golden finch, until I got a closer look, is the Prothonotary Warbler. It’s named after the Roman Catholic clerks who wore yellow robes. They tend to forage for insects in fallen trees or dead standing trees and can be found near water. We have a pond across the county road from the front yard and we have a stream that’s shaped like a giant U around the back of our property. They’re year round residents but, like the Goldenfinches, the rest show up in Missouri in April and begin nesting.

Missouri has lots of yellow wildflowers to delight the senses. They’re common sights along roadways and in fields. I have many, many wildflowers growing in the fields and love my walking track that brings me up close to so many. It makes walking a joy.

Yellow Rocket Flower
Yellow Cone-flower, aka Echinea

Finch among the Tickseed Sunflowers
Common Mulleien

Although Missouri has many outstanding features to see and experience, for me, it’s the beauty that surrounds my house on any given day. The animals, birds, and flowers. I love how the birdsong fills the air, the gossip at the bird feeders, the cry of an eagle, the fuzz of yellow-green oaks covering the hills in the spring amid the carpet of wildflowers. It’s a wonderful place to be.

There are so many beautiful places in this world and I hope you've enjoyed a view of my corner of it, here, in the Ozark Mountains of Missouri. 

Alley Springs Mill and wildflowers

Photos: Missouri conservation, Missouri field guide to flowers, and personal