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American Goldfinch Goldfinch

American Goldfinch

Identification and Pictures

(Carduelis tristis)

The American Goldfinch is a small finch about 5 inches.  Its thick conical bill is good for eating seeds.  In summer the male is bright yellow, with black wings, tail, and forehead patch.  The female is a duller olive-yellow with black wings.

In the winter they both look more like the female but a little duller.  Its flight is undulating, often with a chirp with each dip.

American Goldfinch

Photos by Keith Lee.  The camera I use is the Canon EOS 40D.

Song of American Goldfinch

In spring, and summer during nesting males can be heard giving their high pitched canary-like song.  Their song is a series of random sounds, clear, and light, like per-chek-oree.  
Some say it sounds like pot-tato-chip.  As they fly each dip in their undulating flight is punctuated by tee-dee-de-dee.


American Goldfinch song Click for Sound

American Goldfinch Habitat

Their natural habitat is woodland edges, thickets, and weedy patches.  They can be seen in open woods, on lawns, and on roadsides.  They forage in large flocks.  It is fun to watch flocks fly with their roller coaster manner.  They range from south Canada through the U.S. to north Mexico

Breeding and Nesting


Breeding season begins in April or may in the southwest to mid June in the east.  Goldfinches like to breed in areas with openings among trees, and shrubs.

The female usually builds a well made nest, in high weeds, or in a tree or shrub, often near water. The nest is firm and compact made of strips of bark, catkins, plant down, cotton, spider webs, and wood.  The male will feed the female while she incubates 4 to 6 eggs.  The eggs are smooth and pale blue, or greenish-blue, slightly glossy. Young birds are tended by both parents, and will leave the nest in 10 to 17 days.

Feeders and Food

Goldfiches eat mostly seeds.  They also eat insects, tree buds, and maple syrup.  They are active feeders climbing around in weeds, trees, and shrubs.  Feeders with thistle, and other seeds will attract them.  Make sure you also provide water.

For more on food and feeding click here.
For more on feeders click here.
To learn about other favorite birds click here.

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