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American Goldfinch - Spinus tristis


 Kingdom: Animalia
 Phylum: Chordata
 Class: Aves
 Order: Passeriformes
 Family: Fringillidae
 Genus: Spinus
ICUN Redlist - World Status: Least Concern Least Concern


GoldfinchDuring mating season, the male goldfinch has a bright yellow body, black wings with white stripes, a black cap on its head, and a white rump.

GoldfinchFemales and winter males have duller feathers that are an olive-yellow color. The male's black cap may disappear in the winter or turn a dull black. Females don't have the black cap on their heads. Both males and females have a small cone-shaped bill.


MapThe goldfinch's winter and breeding range includes southern Canada, most of the continental United States, and parts of Mexico. The goldfinch is found year round on the upper east coast, on the west coast, and in the mid-section of the United States. Northern populations may winter in the southern United States and northern Mexico.


GoldfinchThe American goldfinch lives in weedy fields, floodplains, cultivated lands, orchards, and gardens.


GoldfinchThe goldfinch's diet is made up mostly of the seeds of grasses, weeds, and other plants. It also eats the seeds of trees like birch, alder, and elm. It feeds during the day. The goldfinch usually gets seeds that are still on the plant. Its long legs and claws help it to easily perch on plants.

Life Cycle

GoldfinchThe goldfinch mates later than most birds. It is mainly a seed eater, and it doesn't nest until mid-to late summer when there are lots of seeds from weeds and other plants. Because it mates so late in the year, it usually raises only one brood a year.

The female builds a cup-shaped nest in the fork of a tree or bush while the male keeps watch. The nest is made of plant fibers and bark and takes about six days to build. The female lays between four to six light blue eggs. The male feeds the female while she incubates the eggs. The eggs hatch in about two weeks. The chicks are born naked and with their eyes closed. They open their eyes after about seven days. They leave the nest when they are 10-16 days old.


Goldfinches are very sociable and often gather in flocks with other birds. Some populations are short-distance migrators and move south in the winter.

Audio Credit: xeno-canto.org Andrew Spencer cc logo