American Goldfinch

American Goldfinches are beautiful little birds, especially the males in their mating plumage.  During winter both males and females are much drabber in appearance, and females never get as bright as the males.  The males in mating plumage are easy to identify as mostly yellow birds with a little black cap and black wings with a white stripe known as a wing bar and white and black notched tails.  Their beaks are most readily identify them as finches and are one of the ways to identify females as well as the wing bar.

KODAK Digital Still Camera

Like the name suggests, American Goldfinches live in North America migrating from up to mid Canada in the summer to Mexico in the winter.  They prefer open fields and tall weeds like thistles and asters, and some bushes and trees for cover. They aren’t too shy and will often come to bird feeders.  They mainly eat seeds (so they are classified as granivores), especially in the Helianthea or Sunflower family and are one of few really vegetarian birds, only eating insects occasionally by accident.  They are also monogamous, and nest later than most birds, usually in July.  Both parents take care of the fledglings with a little more food from the mother at first and transitioning to more from the father.  Another fun fact has to do with  a nest parasite known as the brown-headed cowbird.  They lay their eggs in other birds nests and leave them for other birds to raise, but they don’t do so well with goldfinches because they can’t survive on only seeds.

KODAK Digital Still Camera

female goldfinch

I sadly didn’t get any good pictures of female goldfinches but I think this was one I got, even if it was dark.  Unlike the bright yellow of the males, females are a grayish brown with some yellow.  I can’t see the beak to confirm it but the wing bars on the wings are what make me think this is a goldfinch.

KODAK Digital Still Camera

Good luck spotting these beautiful little birds!



One thought on “American Goldfinch

  1. Georgia Bauserman says:

    We have so many yellow finches this year. They love our Sun Flowers and our Zenias. Also, I think Grandpa and I saw a green finch when we were sitting on the front porch. We watched it for a long time. It was eating the center of our cone flowers.


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