Goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis)


[order] PASSERIFORMES | [family] Fringillidae | [latin] Carduelis carduelis | [UK] Goldfinch | [FR] Chardonneret eleganz | [DE] Stieglitz | [ES] Jilguero Europeo | [NL] Putter


Genus Species subspecies Breeding Range Breeding Range 2 Non Breeding Range

Physical charateristics

Small, delicate, beautifully marked finch, with noticeably pointed bill and light dancing flight. At all ages, displays diagnostic shining, golden-yellow panel along center of black wing. Adult has unique head pattern of seemingly vertical bands of red-white-black and has tawny-brown back contrasting with wings, bold whitish rump, and black tail.
Voice distinctive. Sexes closely similar, little seasonal variation.

Listen to the sound of Goldfinch


Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 22 cm wingspan max.: 25 cm
size min.: 13 cm size max.: 15 cm
incubation min.: 11 days incubation max.: 14 days
fledging min.: 13 days fledging max.: 14 days
broods: 2   eggs min.: 3  
      eggs max.: 6  


Eurasia : West, Central, South


Breeds over west Palearctic north to isotherms of 17 C in boreal, temperate, Mediterranean, and steppe zones, both Atlantic and continental.
Predominantly in lowlands, but in Switzerland breeds generally up to 1000 m, and occurs in late summer and autumn up to 2400 m, resorting to alpine meadows and areas near chalets. In breeding season, shows preference for orchards, parks, gardens, avenues, and tree nurseries, often in or near human settlements, and especially where patches of tall weeds and other concentrated food sources are present. Also favours streamside of fen woodlands, open or fringe woodlands and heath lands, and commons with well-grown hawthorn, gorse, and other scrub or thicket species.


Breeding starts late May to mid July in Britain, first half of May to early July in Finland, end of may to mid June in Germany, April-May in North Africa, May-June in Azores.
Nest site is Well hidden in inaccessible outermost twigs of tree, and cover seems more important than support.
Nest is a very neat and compact cup of moss, roots, grass, and spider silk, which sometimes binds foundation to twigs, thickly lined with plant down, wool, hair, and occasionally feathers.
4-6 eggs are laid, incubation, 9-14 days by female only.

Feeding habits

Small seeds, mainly Compositae. In breeding season, also small numbers of invertebrates. Prefers seeds in milky, half-ripe state, so changes food plants constantly over year, and continually on move from one patch of suitable species to another, which can be several km away, sometimes following the same route every day.
Generally takes seeds directly from flower or seed-head on plant, mostly on herbs, rarely grasses, in wasteland, open countryside, copses, etc., less often in parks or gardens. In winter regularly in trees, principally alder and pine.


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 stable, 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.
Carduelis carduelis is a widespread resident across most of Europe, which accounts
for less than half of its global range. Its European breeding population is extremely
large (>12,000,000 pairs), and was stable between 1970-1990. Although there were
declines in a few countries-notably Turkey-during 1990-2000, populations were
stable or increased across the vast majority of Europe, and the species underwent a
slight increase overall.
Goldfinch status Least Concern


Mainly resident and dispersive. In the winter they group together to form flocks of up to about 40 birds, occasionally more. Northern birds can move further South to escape extreme cold

Distribution map

Goldfinch distribution range map

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