American Goldfinch (Carduelis tristis)

American Goldfinch

[order] PASSERIFORMES | [family] Fringillidae | [latin] Carduelis tristis | [UK] American Goldfinch | [FR] Chardonneret jaune | [DE] Goldzeisig | [ES] Dominiquito Canario | [NL] Goudsijs


Genus Species subspecies Breeding Range Breeding Range 2 Non Breeding Range
Carduelis tristis NA, MA Canada to Mexico
Carduelis tristis jewetti
Carduelis tristis pallida
Carduelis tristis salicamans
Carduelis tristis tristis

Physical charateristics

A small finch with deeply undulating flight. Male, summer: A small yellow bird with black wings; tail and forehead also black.
Female, summer: Dull yellow-olive; darker above, with blackish wings and conspicuous wing bars. Goldfinches are distinguished from other small, olive-yellow birds (warblers, etc.) by their short, conical bills.
Winter, both sexes: Much like summer female, but gray-brown; yellow on throat.

Listen to the sound of American Goldfinch

[audio: Goldfinch.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 19 cm wingspan max.: 22 cm
size min.: 11 cm size max.: 13 cm
incubation min.: 12 days incubation max.: 14 days
fledging min.: 11 days fledging max.: 17 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 2  
      eggs max.: 7  


North America, Middle America : Canada to Mexico


Patches of thistles and weeds, roadsides, open woods, edges.
Found at all seasons in semi-open areas having open weedy ground and some trees and bushes for shelter, especially areas of second growth, streamsides, roadsides, woodland edges, orchards, suburban areas. In winter also in some very open fields fa
rther from trees.


Nesting begins late in many areas, with most nesting activity during July and August. In courtship, male performs fluttering flight display while singing.
Usually in deciduous shrubs or trees, sometimes in conifers or dense weeds, usually less than 30′ above ground and placed in forked twig. Nest (built by female) is a solid, compact cup of plant fibers, spider webs, plant down (especially from thistles);
nest is so well made that it may even hold water.
Eggs: 4-6, sometimes 2-7. Pale bluish white, occasionally with light brown spots. Incubation is by female, about 12-14 days. Male feeds female during incubation.
Young: Both parents feed nestlings. At first male brings food, female gives it to young; then both parents feed; role of female gradually declines, so that male may provide most food in later stages. Young leave nest about 11
-17 days after hatching.

Feeding habits

Mostly seeds, some insects.
Diet is primarily seeds, especially those of the daisy (composite) family, also those of weeds and grasses, and small seeds of trees such as elm, birch, and alder. Also eats buds, bark of young twigs, maple sap. Eats some insects in summer. Young are fed
regurgitated matter mostly made up of seeds.
Behavior: Forages actively in weeds, shrubs, and trees, often climbing about acrobatically on plants such as thistles to reach the seeds. Except during breeding season, usually forages in flocks. Commonly comes to feeders.


This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appears to be increasing, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is extremely large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
American Goldfinch status Least Concern


Southern Canada to southern United States, northern Baja California. Migration:
Irregular in migration, with more remaining in North in winters with good food supply. Peak migration is usually midautumn and early spring, but some linger south of nesting range to late spring or early summer. Migrates mostly by day.

Distribution map

American Goldfinch distribution range map

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