Finches & Allies
Carduelis tristis Length: 5"
The American Goldfinch in spring and summer is familiar even to nonbirders. Bill color is yellow in spring and summer, dark gray in fall and winter. Winter-plumaged males resemble females, fooling many feeder watchers into thinking their goldfinches have left.
The goldfinch's song is a variable mix of rich warbles and twitters, often given from a treetop perch. Its twittering potato-chip, potato-chip call is commonly given in flight.
Dull-colored winter goldfinches are often overlooked as they forage with other species. Similar in appearance to yellow-colored warblers, the American Goldfinch has a much heavier bill.
American Goldfinches forage in noisy, twittering flocks. They are common continent-wide in brushy habitat, along woodland edges, and in overgrown meadows. They visit feeders for sunflower and thistle seed.
The American Goldfinch is the only songbird that feeds its young a diet of seeds. Brown-headed Cowbirds hatched from eggs laid in goldfinch nests cannot survive the all-seed diet.