A small bird, the American Goldfinch changes the color of its plumage twice a year after going through the molting process—the only member of the finch family to go through a complete molt.
For most residents of North America, it's easy to attract American Goldfinches to feeders. They eagerly eat many types of seed and can be specifically attracted by offering thistle seed. In fact, some feeders can be converted to only serve American Goldfinches by moving the perches above the feeder ports! These brilliant little birds are the only species that will eat thistle while hanging upside down.
The American Goldfinch also made the Perky-Pet® list of the Top 15 Photogenic Feeder Birds.
Appearance of the American Goldfinch
The American Goldfinch (also known as the Eastern Goldfinch or the Wild Canary) is a common member of the finch family.
During the summer months, male American goldfinches are bright yellow and then olive during the winter. Female American goldfinches are dull yellow-brown year-round, though brighter during the summer.
With its twice-a-year molt, the American Goldfinch can sometimes look a little scruffy. During these times, this goldfinch will have some bright yellow feathers and some that are more drab.
The rear of the American Goldfinch features black feathers with white bars and a notched tail.
The female American Goldfinch is usually a duller yellow on top when sporting its breeding plumage.
As for the beak, the goldfinch's has evolved over time, becoming conical to aid in feeding on seedheads.
The song of the American Goldfinch is a series of musical warbles and twitters.
Geography of the American Goldfinch
American Goldfinches are found throughout southern Canada from British Columbia to Newfoundland in the east, and across most of the United States with the exception of the American southwest.
Migrating southward for winter, American Goldfinches usually stay within the continental United States. Some goldfinches do venture as far south as northern Mexico.
Local Environments of the American Goldfinch
The American Goldfinch prefers open field, including weedy pastures, wild floodplains, meadows, orchards and yards near any of those area. Those that stay in the same area year-round tend to move closer to areas where birdfeeders are in abundance.
American goldfinches are considered ‘social’, gathering in flocks while feeding and or migrating.
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