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American Goldfinch (Spinus tristis)


Photo © Stephon Low

American Goldfinch

Photo © Sharon Beals, from the collection of the California Academy of Sciences

American Goldfinch Nestlings

Photo © Emma Sievert

Breeding male

Photo © Adam Jackson | Macaulay Library

Nonbreeding male

Photo © Matt Davis | Macaulay Library

Breeding female

Photo © Jay McGowan | Macaulay Library

Immature

Photo © Anonymous eBirder | Macaulay Library

Female/immature

Photo © Tim Lenz | Macaulay Library

Breeding male

Photo © Yves Dugré | Macaulay Library

Breeding male

Photo © Gordon Dimmig | Macaulay Library

Flock

Photo © Robert Dixon | Macaulay Library

Song

© Wil Hershberger | Macaulay Library

Song and calls

© Thomas G. Sander | Macaulay Library

Calls

© David Sibley | Macaulay Library

Calls

© William W. H. Gunn | Macaulay Library

Flight calls

© Wil Hershberger | Macaulay Library

When To Look

Source: Birds of North America Online

Where To Find It

Habitats

open woodland

Substrates

Live Tree Branch

Bush or Shrub

What You'll Find

Nest Type

cup

Chick

Altricial

Clutch Size

2
7

Nest Height

10 ft
3 ft

Nesting Statistics

Incubation Period

12-14
days

Brooding Period

11-17
days

Useful Hints

  • American Goldfinches breed later than most North American birds. They wait to nest until June or July when milkweed, thistle, and other plants have produced their fibrous seeds, which goldfinches incorporate into their nests and also feed their young.
  • Goldfinches are among the strictest vegetarians in the bird world, selecting an entirely vegetable diet and only inadvertently swallowing an occasional insect.
  • The nest is constructed by the female in 3 stages. Stage 1 involves building an open cup of twigs connected by spider silk. In stage 2, a tighter cup of small roots and plant debris is formed. During stage 3, a soft lining of plant pappus or other “downy” material is added to line the nest.