American Goldfinch


You can’t help but smile when you see an American Goldfinch – they’re like sunshine with wings.

During mating season, the male is brilliant yellow. His wings are black with white streaks, and he sports a splotch of black on his head.


The females are a creamier shade of yellow, sometimes bordering on tan or olive. I love to hear these birds singing their lovely song. It is high-pitched, but soft and sweet. Once you learn to recognize it, you will never forget it. It’s really quite charming. And speaking of charming – when you get a group of these songbirds together, it’s known as “a charm of goldfinches.”

Female Goldfinch. Their feet are perfect for clinging to stems and small branches.

Goldfinches undergo two full molts each year. The males replace their vibrant feathers with a duller brown variety for the fall and winter, and then return to their blazing yellow in the spring. The females also replace their feathers, but keep the same coloring all year long.

Male goldfinch wearing his winter colors.

Goldfinches are common visitors at birdfeeders. Although they may occasionally munch on an insect or two, their diet is comprised almost exclusively of seeds. Most guidebooks will tell you these birds love Nyger, but the ones in my yard seem to prefer sunflower seeds…


…especially when they can eat them right off the flower.


Since I have become a backyard bird watcher, I have noticed that birds are good weather forecasters. When a storm is approaching, they will begin to feed in a sort of frenzy. This seems to be especially true of goldfinches. In fact, I once read that they tend to eat more when they are panicked. Perhaps they are the stress eaters of the bird world.

I rarely see these songsters splashing about like some of my other bird visitors, but they frequently perch to enjoy a refreshing drink.


The American Goldfinch definitely makes the world a brighter place!










6 thoughts on “American Goldfinch

  1. What a wonderful post and beautiful photos, Kathy! I never knew a group of goldfinches were called a “charm”, that is very interesting! I just love listening to them chattering to one another as they feed, it always brightens my day. I always say you can’t be depressed with goldfinches around! They bring sunshine into even the gloomiest of days. And I have noticed that they prefer sunflower seeds over thistle, too.

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