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The Very Bright and Beautiful American Goldfinch

The American Goldfinch (Spinus tristis) is a very bright and beautiful bird that is found throughout the US, except for Alaska and Hawaii. If you’ve been around the US and have been observant, you’ve probably seen it.

This bird is a permanent resident of most of the lower 48 states, except for the extreme south and along the east and west coasts. Even in these areas, it is a common visitor. The range is from well into Canada to middle and southern Mexico.

Goldfinches are small, somewhat smaller than sparrows, but in the breeding season, the males are tremendously colorful. They are bright yellow, with black and white thrown in for good measure.

The habitat they inhabit is also extremely variable; fields, flood plains, young forests, roadsides, meadows, gardens, and orchards. They commonly take seeds from bird feeders. They are social birds and usually occur in small or large flocks.

Goldfinches eat small seeds and an occasional insect. The nests are built in trees that provide plenty of shade and they lay 2-7 eggs. They are among the lastest finches to breed in the wild, usually nesting in July and August.

American goldfinches are among the most beautiful small birds. Don’t you agree?

  • Question of

    Have you ever seen a goldfinch?

    • Yes
    • No
    • I’m not sure
  • Question of

    Have you even heard of a goldfinch?

    • Yes
    • No


What do you think?

12 points

Written by Rex Trulove

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    • There are a number of subspecies of goldfinches. Some of them even have reddish coloring as well as some yellow. During the migrations of goldfinches, the yellow might even be missing, replaced with olive-green. The yellow is breeding color for the males, so when they are migrating, the breeding season is over and they are more of a drab color.

    • We have a lot of them in Montana, too. They are permanent residents here, but there is a peak time in the late spring and early summer when they are most commonly seen. That is when the males are especially brilliant, in their breeding colors. Later in the year, the males are sort of an olive drab color and they are easy to miss. They’re still there, but not nearly as noticeable.


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