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Merlin Bird ID

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    American Goldfinch

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    American Goldfinch

    Spinus tristis
    • ORDER: Passeriformes
    • FAMILY: Fringillidae
    Basic Description

    This handsome little finch, the state bird of New Jersey, Iowa, and Washington, is welcome and common at feeders, where it takes primarily sunflower and nyjer. Goldfinches often flock with Pine Siskins and Common Redpolls. Spring males are brilliant yellow and shiny black with a bit of white. Females and all winter birds are more dull but identifiable by their conical bill; pointed, notched tail; wingbars; and lack of streaking. During molts they look bizarrely patchy.

    More ID Info
    image of range map for American GoldfinchRange map provided by Birds of North AmericaExplore Maps

    Find This Bird

    Goldfinches are usually easy to find throughout much of North America, except in deep forests. Their po-ta-to-chip flight call is draws attention to them in open country. They’re most abundant in areas with thistle plants, and near feeders.

    Other Names
    • Jilguerito Canario (Spanish)
    • Chardonneret jaune (French)

    Backyard Tips

    To encourage goldfinches into your yard, plant native thistles and other composite plants, as well as native milkweed. Almost any kind of bird feeder may attract American Goldfinches, including hopper, platform, and hanging feeders, and these birds don’t mind feeders that sway in the wind. You’ll also find American Goldfinches are happy to feed on the ground below feeders, eating spilled seeds. They’re most attracted to sunflower seed and nyjer. Find out more about what this bird likes to eat and what feeder is best by using the ProjectFeeder Watch's Common Feeder Birds bird list.

    To protect American Goldfinches from contagious diseases at feeders, keep the ground well-raked. For more information about keeping feeders clean, see Project FeederWatch’s “Safe Feeding Environment”.

    For more information about what to do if you see a sick bird at your feeder, see Project Feeder Watch’s “Diseased Birds”.

    • Cool Facts