• Name:American Goldfinch
  • Species:Spinus Tristis
  • Order:Passeriformes
  • Family:Fringillidae

Size & ShapeEdit

A small finch with a short, conical bill and a small, head, long wings, and short, notched tail.

Color PatternEdit

Adult males in spring and early summer are bright yellow with black forehead, black wings with white markings, and white patches both above and beneath the tail. Adult females are duller yellow beneath, olive above. Winter birds are drab, unstreaked brown, with blackish wings and two pale wingbars.


These are active and acrobatic little finches that cling to weeds and seed socks, and sometimes mill about in large numbers at feeders or on the ground beneath them. Goldfinches fly with a bouncy, undulating pattern and often call in flight, drawing attention to themselves. American Goldfinches are active, acrobatic finches that balance on the seedheads of thistles, dandelions, and other plants to pluck seeds. They have a bouncy flight during which they frequently make their po-ta-to-chip calls. Although males sing exuberantly during spring, pairs do not nest until mid-summer, when thistles and other weeds have gone to seed. Goldfinches do not join other songbirds mobbing predators.


The goldfinch’s main natural habitats are weedy fields and floodplains, where plants such as thistles and asters are common. They’re also found in cultivated areas, roadsides, orchards, and backyards. American Goldfinches can be found at feeders any time of year, but most abundantly during winter. Weedy fields, open floodplains, and other overgrown areas, particularly with sunflower, aster, and thistle plants for food and some shrubs and trees for nesting. Goldfinches are also common in suburbs, parks, and backyards.


Both SexesEdit

4.3–5.1 in 11–13 cm


7.5–8.7 in 19–22 cm


0.4–0.7 oz 11–20 g

Relative SizeEdit

Smaller than a Tufted Titmouse


Goldfinches eat seeds almost exclusively. Main types include seeds from composite plants (in the family Asteraceae: sunflowers, thistle, asters, etc.), grasses, and trees such as alder, birch, western red cedar, and elm. At feeders prefers nyjer and sunflower.


Nest DescriptionEdit

The nest is an open cup of rootlets and plant fibers lined with plant down, often woven so tightly that it can hold water. The female lashes the foundation to supporting branches using spider silk, and makes a downy lining often using the fluffy “pappus” material taken from the same types of seedheads that goldfinches so commonly feed on. It takes the female about 6 days to build the nest. The finished nest is about 3 inches across on the outside and 2-4.5 inches high.

Nest PlacementEdit

Male and female move around together to choose a suitable nest site. The female builds the nest, usually in a shrub or sapling in a fairly open setting rather than in forest interior. The nest is often built high in a shrub, where two or three vertical branches join; usually shaded by leaves of clusters of needles from above, but often open and visible from below.

Nesting FactsEdit

Clutch Size

2–7 eggs

Egg Length

0.6–0.7 in 1.62–1.69 cm

Egg Width

0.5–0.5 in 1.2–1.3 cm

Incubation Period

12–14 days

Nestling Period

11–17 days

Egg Description

Pale bluish white, sometimes with small faint brown spots around large end.

Condition at Hatching

Helpless, with wisps of grayish down.


Short distance migrant.


Abundant and widespread. Populations appear stable.

Similar SpeciesEdit

Range MapEdit