Lesser Goldfinch

Silhouette FinchesFinches

Lesser Goldfinch

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

Jabbering clouds of yellow, green, and black Lesser Goldfinches gather in scrubby oak, cottonwood, and willow habitats of the western U.S., or visit suburban yards for seeds and water. These finches primarily eat seeds of plants in the sunflower family, and they occur all the way south to the Peruvian Andes. Listen closely to their wheezy songs, which often include snippets from the songs of other birds.

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

Find This Bird

Look for Lesser Goldfinches among large flocks of birds at feeder stations, and near the tops of taller trees in scrubby habitats. The all-black cap on the Lesser is a good clue to distinguishing among mixed goldfinch groups. Also keep an eye out for bright yellow birds in weedy fields clinging to the top of thistle plants that have gone to seed.

Other Names
  • Jilguero Menor (Spanish)
  • Chardonneret mineur (French)

Backyard Tips

Lesser Goldfinches readily come to feeders along with other finches such as American Goldfinches and Pine Siskins. These small finches eat many kinds of seeds from the sunflower family, including the thin-hulled seeds of nyjer thistle. Find out more about what this bird likes to eat and what feeder is best by using the Project FeederWatch Common Feeder Birds bird list.

  • Cool Facts