I got a call at work about a male European Goldfinch coming to a feeder near Core Creek Park in Langhorne. Its only 20 minutes from work so slipped over there on my lunch break. After half an hour of standing in the drizzling rain the bird came in and fed at the feeder for about 6 minutes at 12:30pm. (photo credit: Trev Feltham)
These guys show up every year or so in southeastern Pennsylvania. They're usually presumed to be escaped cagebirds, though as with this bird, there is usually no obvious cage wear and no band. Julie Craves at the Rouge River Bird Observatory in Michigan has been tracking European goldfinch sightings in the Midwest since a large importer was rumored to have released a large number in 2002.
Unfortunately, since we don't have a good handle on the status and distribution of these goldfinches and other European birds in North America, its almost impossible to determine what might be legitimate vagrants from escaped exotics.
But that's only something of interest to birders keeping lists (exotics don't count) and a few researchers interested in the dynamics of new invading species. For some of us, seeing a European Goldfinch is just a real treat.