American Goldfinch
Carduelis tristis
Family Fringillidae

One of America’s most recognizable backyard finches, the American goldfinch is a popular summertime feeder visitor due to its vibrant plumage and penchant for thistle seeds.

Identifying Traits (male):

  • Bright yellow body in summer, fades to olive in winter
  • Black cap present during the summer
  • Short, pale, pointed bill
  • Black wings with white wing-bars
  • Black, slightly forked tail with traces of white around edges
  • White rump
  • Bounding flight
  • Size: 13 cm  (5”)
  • Weight: 12 g (.50 oz)

 

Identifying Traits (female):

  • Dull, yellow-olive body
  • Short, pale, pointed bill
  • Black wings with white wing-bars
  • Black, slightly forked tail with traces of white around edges
  • White rump
  • Bounding flight
     
Adult male  
     

Similar Species: Female house sparrow lacks yellowish coloration, as well as black wings and tail.

Voice: The song of the American goldfinch is a pleasing series of canarylike whistles and warbles.  When flying, it often gives a three- or four-note call: chik-o-ree or per-chik-o-ree, with the lowest point of each bound in its flight punctuated by the chik.

Habitat: The American Goldfinch makes its home in thistle patches, roadsides, open woods, edges, orchards, and gardens.  It is also a frequent visitor of feeders.

Range: The American Goldfinch can be found in southern Canada and throughout the continental U.S.

Interesting Facts: While they will eat many different types of seeds, goldfinches have proven to have a strong preference for thistle.  Planting thistle in your garden or filling your feeder with thistle seeds is an almost surefire way to attract goldfinches.

   
 

 

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