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American Goldfinch

American goldfinch Carduelis tristis

Identification Tips:

  • Length: 4.25 inches
  • Small, seed-eating bird
  • Short, conical bill
  • Short, forked tail

Male alternate:

  • Plumage held in Spring and Summer
  • Black forehead
  • Yellow head, back, breast and belly
  • Black wings and tail
  • White wing bars and tertial edges
  • White rump and undertail coverts
  • Pale bill and legs

Female alternate:

  • Greenish upperparts
  • Yellow underparts
  • Pale bill and legs


  • Plumage held in Fall and Winter
  • Yellow face
  • Brownish-olive upperparts
  • Whitish underparts
  • Blackish wings with pale wing bars

Smilar species:

The male American Goldfinch in alternate plumage is quite distinctive. Female Lesser Goldfinch is similar to female and immature American Goldfinch but is greener above and has a white patch in the wing.

Length and wingspan from: Robbins, C.S., Bruun, B., Zim, H.S., (1966). Birds of North America. New York: Western Publishing Company, Inc.

Life History Groupings

Migration Status:Short distance migrant

Breeding Habitat:Successional-scrub

Nest Location:Mid-story/canopy nesting

Nest Type:Open-cup

Clutch Size:4-6

Length of Incubation: 10-12 days

Days to Fledge:11-17

Number of Broods:occasionally 2



  • Seeds

Lesser Quantities of:

  • Insects

Gregory Gough
USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center

Clutch size, length of incubation, days to fledge and number of broods from: Ehrlich, P., Dobkin, D., and Wheye, D. (1988). The Birders Handbook: A Field Guide to the Natural History of North American Birds. New York: Simon and Schuster Inc.

1 Quart Forever Nyjer Feeder
Description: Stainless steel screen, molded durable acrylic top and bottom, center seed diverter, drainage holes in base, hanging cable, easy to fill and clean, lifetime guarantee. Available in: Clear, Red, Green and Yellow.
Dimensions: 5" W x 8" H (w/Hanging Cable 13-1/2" H)
Made in the USA!

1 Quart Stainless Steel Nyjer Feeder
Description: Stainless steel with die cast top and bottom, looped top, removable bottom and no center rod. Yellow top and bottom. Comes with 6" hanger. Lifetime Guarantee against squirrel damage. Holds 1 quart. Attracts American Gold Finches, American Tree Sparrows, Blackcapped Chickadees, Chipping Sparrows, Dark-Eyed Juncos, Estern Towhees, House Finches, Indigo Buntings, Pine Siskins, Purple Finches, Song Sparrows and Tufted Titmice if the species are native to the area. Fill with nyjer seed. (An extra yellow bottom tray can be added on. Add-A-Tray 903 sold separately.)
Dimensions: 3-1/2" W x 11-3/8" H

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