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Arkansaw Goldfinch

Arkansaw Goldfinch

The definitive website on wildbirds & nature

Birds of America

By John James Audubon, F. R. SS. L. & E.


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[Lesser Goldfinch (see also Yarrell's Goldfinch).]

[Carduelis psaltria.]


This pretty little species first added to our Fauna by THOMAS SAY, who procured it in the course of Colonel LONG's expedition to the Rocky Mountains, visits the lower parts of Louisiana at irregular periods, although always during winter. I have procured individuals a few miles from Bayou Sara. They fly loosely together, alight after performing some evolutions, made as if to ascertain the absence of danger, and, as soon as they are on the trees or on the ground, proceed to search for food. The only notes I heard them utter, somewhat resembled those of C. tristis, the American Goldfinch. They are impatient birds, and seldom remain long in the same spot, but change to and fro in the same locality. No individuals of this species were observed by NUTTALL or TOWNSEND in the course of their journey to and across the Rocky Mountains. My figure is that of an old male drawn at Bayou Sara.

Eastern bases of Rocky Mountains, and Western Plains. Accidental in Lower Louisiana. Common. Migratory.

ARKANSAW SISKIN, Fringilla psaltria, Say, Long's Exped., vol. ii. p. 40.
FRINGILLA PSALTRIA, Bonap. Syn., p. 111.
ARKANSAS SISKIN, Nutt. Man., vol. i. p. 510.

ARKANSAW SISKIN, Fringilla psaltria, Aud. Orn. Biog., vol. v. p. 85.

Adult Male.

Bill short, conical, stout, compressed toward the end, the tip acute; upper mandible with the dorsal line somewhat convex, the ridge indistinct, the sides rounded, the edges sharp, declinate at the base, the tip narrow; lower mandible with the angle very short and semicircular, the dorsal line straight, the sides convex, the edges inflected, the tip acute. Nostrils basal, round, concealed by the feathers.

Head rather large, broadly ovate; neck short; body moderate. Feet of moderate size; tarsus rather short, compressed, with seven anterior scutella, and two plates behind meeting so as to form a very sharp edge; toes rather large, the lateral equal, the first stouter; claws rather long, moderately arched, much compressed, laterally grooved, very acute.

Plumage very soft and blended; short stiffish feathers at the base of the bill. Wings rather long, little concave; the second, third, and fourth primaries cut out toward the end; the second longest, the first half a twelfth shorter, the third scarcely a quarter of a twelfth shorter than the second, and exceeding the fourth by a twelfth and a half, the next four and a quarter twelfths shorter; some of the inner primaries and most of the secondaries distinctly emarginate. Tail rather short, deeply emarginate, the feathers obliquely pointed and divaricate.

Bill flesh-coloured, the upper mandible dusky toward the end. Feet and claws reddish-brown. The upper part of the head is deep black; the hind neck, back, and scapulars yellowish-green, each feather greenish-brown in the centre; the rump greenish-yellow, the upper tail coverts dusky, margined with greenish-yellow, as are the smaller wing-coverts. The other coverts and quills are black; the secondary-coverts broadly tipped with pale yellow, which forms a conspicuous band across the wing; the quills are margined with yellowish-white, the inner more broadly; all the quills, the outer three, and the inner secondaries excepted, are white toward the base, The tail is brownish-black, the feathers narrowly edged with brownish-white, and all, excepting the two middle and the lateral, with a white space at the base, which runs out along the outer margin forming a conspicuous patch. All the lower parts are bright-yellow, but the cheeks and the sides of the neck are tinged with green, and the feathers of the chin are blackish in the centre.

Length to end of tail 4 1/2 inches; extent of wings 8; bill along the ridge (4 1/2)/12 along the edge of lower mandible (5 3/4)/12; wing from flexure 2 1/12; tail 2; tarsus 7/12; hind toe 4/12, its claw (3 1/2)/12; middle toe (6 1/4)/12, its claw 3/12.

The female is similar to the male, but wants the black patch on the head, that part being green like the back.

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