American Goldfinch Information, Photos & Facts
With their lively yellow color and delightful songs, the American Goldfinch can brighten up even the gloomiest of days.
The American Goldfinch (Carduelis tristis) is one of the most widespread birds in North America. Its bright yellow plumage catches the eye of the explorer and many households welcome these feathered friends to their backyard feeders. American Expedition is proud to present information, interesting facts, and photos of the American Goldfinch.
American Goldfinch Information
American Goldfinches are also known as the Eastern Goldfinch or the "Wild Canary," and are a member of the finch family. The bird is only about 4-5 inches long, with a wingspan of 7-9 inches. They weigh about 0.4-0.7 ounces. Male Goldfinches are known for their brilliant yellow color, which is produced by pigments in the seeds and plant materials of their diet. Females are mostly brown, with light undersides and a little yellow on their bib. Goldfinches molt twice a year; first in late summer and again in late winter. They become their signature yellow color each spring.
American Goldfinches are monogamous and breed later in the summer than most other North American birds. They will wait to nest and breed until between late May and August, after plants like milkweed, thistle, and others have produced their seeds for food and fibrous stalks which goldfinches will use for building nests. After the nest is built, she may leave it for a few days, but will return later to lay her eggs. The female will usually lay 3-7 eggs which are light blue in coloration. She will incubate the eggs for a period of 12 to 14 days; during this period the male is responsible for gathering food for her. After the chicks hatch, they will stay in the nest for approximately two weeks. Goldfinches may raise two broods per breeding season. The female may build a second nest while the male feeds and raises the first brood of birds.
During the non-breeding season goldfinches will flock together, and their flocks can fly in an undulating pattern, which can look like a giant undulating wave of birds in the sky. To escape the cold, they will fly south for the winter. The goldfinches already inhabiting the southern United States will usually stay where they are, but sometimes fly a few miles to a new place to reside.
American Goldfinch Facts
- Despite sharing a common name, the American Goldfinch is not closely related to the European Goldfinch.
- The bright yellow color of the male American Goldfinch during the spring and summer months can be attributed to carotenoid pigments in its diet.
- American Goldfinches prefer open habitats with shrubs and scattered trees to dense forest environments.
- Usually several male American Goldfinches will compete for the affections of a single female. Several males may chase a female for periods of twenty minutes or more before one finally wins her over.
- American Goldfinches will tightly weave their nests together from weeds, vines, and filaments in order to be waterproof.
- The goldfinch is the state bird of Washington, Iowa, and New Jersey.
- The brilliant yellow color of the American Goldfinch male is produced by carotenoid pigments from plant materials in its diet.
- The female Goldfinch is responsible for building the nest.
- Goldfinches are very vocal birds.
- These birds have a lifespan of 3 to 6 years in the wild.
- The record age of a Goldfinch is 11 years old.
American Goldfinch Habitat
American Goldfinches can be found all throughout the United States and some of Canada. They tend to occupy brushy and overgrown areas, in which vegetation is plentiful.
What do Goldfinches Eat?
They are among the strictest vegetarians in the bird world, feeding on a diet consisting almost exclusively of seeds. Unlike other finches, the Goldfinch will use its feet to help remove seeds while feeding. The Goldfinch will frequently hang from its feet on the seed heads of annual plants such as zinnias and sunflowers to reach the seeds more easily. During the winter, American Goldfinches are a common site at bird feeders provided by humans. American Goldfinches also consume berries, maple sap, and tree buds, and will occasionally feed on insects, which they use to provide protein to their young.
Tips For Feeding & Attracting American Goldfinches
- American Goldfinches are among the easiest birds to attract to backyard bird feeders.
- American Goldfinches are especially fond of nyjer seed for its high oil and calorie content, but they are not picky eaters and will eat basically any type of seed you place in the feeder.
- Try to get a bird feeder that has plenty of perches and can support multiple birds at once.
- Make sure to clean bird feeders often to avoid spreading disease or having the food become unappealing due to mold and clumping.
- If you want to see a spectacular show, place a good amount of seed out before a storm rolls in. American Goldfinches will go into a feeding frenzy when they sense the weather is about to get bad.
- Goldfinches may make nests in thick shrubs and pine trees. It is a good idea to have plants they need growing nearby, including milkweed, sunflowers, and thistle.
- American Goldfinches will take up residency in bird houses. The hole opening needs to be about 1-1/2" in diameter.
- It is a good idea to buy a bird house with a guard to protect the goldfinches from predation.
American Goldfinches are a very popular bird among bird feeding enthusiasts.
The Goldfinch will frequently hang from its feet on the seed heads of annual plants such as zinnias and sunflowers to reach the seeds more easily.
The brilliant yellow color of the American Goldfinch male is produced by carotenoid pigments from plant materials in its diet.
Despite sharing a common name, the American Goldfinch is not closely related to the European Goldfinch.
Unlike other finches, the American Goldfinch will use its feet to help remove seeds while feeding.
American Goldfinches prefer open habitats with shrubs and scattered trees to dense forest environments.
The goldfinch is the state bird of Washington, Iowa, and New Jersey.
Placing a birdbath in your yard can help attract American Goldfinches, they like having a place to grab a drink and take an afternoon swim.