American Goldfinch

Spinus tristis




Fringilline & Cardueline Finches (Fringillidae)

Code 4


Code 6



Egg Color:

Pale blue to white blue

Number of Eggs:

4 - 6

Incubation Days:

10 - 12

Egg Incubator:


Nest Location:

Usually along the edge of an open area.

Nest Material:

Pliable vegetation lined with plant down.





American Goldfinch: Male is a small, noisy finch with a bright yellow body, black cap, wings, and tail, and white rump and undertail coverts. Wings have flashy white patches and bright yellow shoulder bar. Bill is pink and conical. Female is duller with olive back and lacks black cap and yellow shoulder bars. Winter male has olive-gray to olive-brown upperparts, paler underparts, yellow shoulder bar, white wing bar, dark bill, and may show black on forehead and yellow on throat and face. Winter female is duller with buff wing and shoulder bars, and lacks yellow and black on face and head. Juvenile resembles winter female but has yellow wash on throat and breast.

Range and Habitat

American Goldfinch: Breeds from southern British Columbia east to Newfoundland and south to California, Utah, southern Colorado, central Oklahoma, Arkansas, and the Carolinas. Spends winters throughout much of U.S., especially across the southern states and into northern Mexico; prefers brushy thickets, weedy grasslands, and nearby trees.

Breeding and Nesting

American Goldfinch: Four to six pale blue to white blue eggs are laid in a well-made cup of grass, bark strips, and plant down, and built in a small sapling or shrub. Incubation typically ranges from 10 to 12 days and is carried out by the female; male feeds her on the nest.

Foraging and Feeding

American Goldfinch: Feeds primarily on seeds; prefers hanging onto seed heads rather than feeding on the ground.

Readily Eats

Sunflower, Nyjer


American Goldfinch: Emits a jumbled series of musical warbles and trills, often with a drawn-out "baybee" note. Flight song resembles "per-chick-oree" or "po-tato-chips."

Similar Species

American Goldfinch: Yellow Warbler lacks black wings and tail. Lesser Goldfinch has yellow undertail coverts.


Belly, undertail coverts, chest, flanks, and foreneck.

Undertail covertsX
Small feathers that cover the areas where the retrices (tail feathers) attach to the rump.
Back, rump, hindneck, wings, and crown.
The upper front part of a bird.
The area on top of the head of the bird.
The front part of the head consisting of the bill, eyes, cheeks and chin.
The area between the uppertail coverts and the back of the bird.
The short feathers overlying the median secondary coverts on the top of the wing. They are located near the back and can be seen as the “first row” of feathers on the birds wing. They are also called marginal coverts and lesser secondary coverts.
Parts of a Standing bird X
Head Feathers and Markings X
Parts of a Flying bird X