American Goldfinch

American Goldfinch Picture

An American Goldfinch is a fun bird to see while bird watching. Below are some tips to help you identify American Goldfinches. We have also put together a list of fun American Goldfinch T-shirts, American Goldfinch bird patches, birdhouses, bird feeders, binoculars, stickers, and other fun bird-watching items.

About the American Goldfinch 

The American Goldfinch is also known as the “Wild Canary” is a member of the finch family commonly found in North America. They are most abundant near feeders and in areas with thistle plants. These very vocal birds are typically known for their bright sunflower yellow color that fills the spring air.

American Goldfinch Color Pattern

During spring and early summer, the male Goldfinch is adorned with bright yellow feathers, black wings with white markings, and visible white patches both above and under their tail. In comparison, the adult female has a much duller tint to their yellow feathers below and a shade of olive above. American Goldfinches molt twice a year, first in late summer and again in late winter.

Description and Identification

You’ll first notice the striking yellow color of the male American Goldfinch if you see one outside of the cold weather months. During the winter, males and females are a brown color. These birds are small with an orange, short, bill-shaped like a cone. Their tales are short and notched. Breeding males have a black forehead, black wings with white markings, and plenty of bright yellow on their heads, necks, chests, and bellies. Non-breeding males are brown with black wings with whitish wing bars. Their tails are also black and white. Breeding females closely resemble males in markings during that time of the year, but their color is duller and more olive.

American Goldfinch Size

The American Goldfinch is a fairly small bird with a short conical bill, tiny head, short tail, and longs wings. They are 4.3-5.1 inches in length and weigh 0.4-0.7 ounces. They have a wingspan of 7.5-8.7 inches.

American Goldfinch

American Goldfinch Behavior

You will often find this bird milling around in large numbers at the mouths of feeders or just on the ground. The flying pattern is described as bouncy and accompanied by loud calls drawing some attention to them.

American Goldfinch Diet

American Goldfinches forage in flocks most of the time, and they look for food in trees, shrubs, and weeds. You’ll see them acting like acrobats on plants to get at the seeds they want to consume. If you put a feeder in your yard, there’s a good chance that you’ll find American Goldfinches among your visitors, particularly if you add nyjer and sunflower. These birds eat seeds the majority of the time. They especially enjoy seeds from the Asteraceae family, which include sunflowers, asters, and thistle. They also eat seeds from alders, birch, western red cedar, and elm. Their beaks are perfectly formed to eat seeds, and they are nimble foragers who can get seeds from just about any angle.

Their diet almost exclusively consists of seeds from trees such as the alder, birch, or red cedar tree and seeds from plants like the thistle and sunflower plant.

American Goldfinch Habitat

The main habitats for this bird include open floodplains, overgrown areas, weedy fields, and areas with sunflower, thistle, and aster plants, as these are excellent food sources. They also like roadsides, open woods, and edges. You’ll see them throughout the year in somewhat open areas with weeds, a few trees, and bushes, and they also like areas of second growth, orchards, and streamsides. American Goldfinches may venture out into open fields in the winter. These birds like shrubs and trees when they nest. Go for a walk in your neighborhood, and you’ll likely find them there as well. You can often see them in backyards, parks, and suburbs. 

Where there are weedy fields, overgrown areas filled with aster, thistle, and sunflower plants, you are guaranteed to find these birds. Other common areas include parks, backyards, and the suburbs.

Range and Migration

American Goldfinches are short-distant migrants who breed in the northern parts of North America, particularly in the northern Great Plains States and into Canada. They usually migrate in mid-fall and early spring, but some of them stay south of their nesting range into the spring or early summer. They also breed from coast to coast in Canada. You can find them in large swathes of the central, eastern, and western parts of the United States. In non-breeding seasons, they are found in areas south of their year-round habitats, and even into Mexico, particularly on the east coast, south of Arizona, and parts of Baja California. One interesting point is that you may find them in the northern parts of Oregon in the non-breeding season, and you’ll also find them at the southern tip of Florida at the same time.  

American Goldfinch Lifecycle

Unlike other birds, the Goldfinch mates much later into the year. Due to its late mating season, it only raises one family brood per year. Once the eggs are laid, they take close to two weeks to hatch.


Males and females work together to find the best nest site. The female constructs the nest, which she usually places in a shrub or sapling in an open area. This contrasts with birds who build their nests further into the forests. The nests are high off the ground, usually where two or three vertical branches join, and needles or leaves above them protect them. However, if you’re standing underneath them, they’re not hard to spot. Plant fibers and rootlets make up the nest, and the female lines it with the plant down. The weave is tight, so much so that it can hold water. The foundation is attached to branches with spider silk. The female builds the nest in about six days, and it measures about three inches in width and 2-4.5 inches in height.

Anatomy of an American Goldfinch

Anatomy is the study of animals or other organisms and their parts. Bird Anatomy is the study of birds and their parts. Birds have beaks, wings, talons, feathers, and other parts that are important to learn about. Learning about bird anatomy will also help kids learn how to identify birds.  We focus on the exterior, external, or outside anatomy of birds to help kids learn how to identify them.

Some other types of bird anatomy are the skeletal system, muscular system, circulatory system, respiratory system, and digestive system. Birds also have reproductive systems, nervous systems, and immune systems. Birds are amazing creatures.


Here is a fun printable design to help kids learn about birds.


Below is a blank copy to test your kids on the bird anatomy of a BIRD



Bird Watching Academy & Camp Subscription Boxes

At the Bird Watching Academy & Camp we help kids, youth, and adults get excited and involved in bird watching. We have several monthly subscription boxes that you can subscribe to. Our monthly subscription boxes help kids, youth, and adults learn about birds, bird watching, and bird conservation.

American Goldfinch Bird Girl Video

The Call of the American Goldfinch

Bird Watching Binoculars for Identifying American Goldfinches

The most common types of bird watching binoculars for viewing American Goldfinches are 8×21 binoculars and 10×42 binoculars. Bird Watching Academy & Camp sells really nice 8×21 binoculars and 10×42 binoculars. You can view and purchase them here.

American Goldfinch T-shirts

If you love the American Goldfinch you should purchase a Bird Watching Academy & Camp T-shirt. To help support bird conservation we donate 10 percent to bird conservation activities.

American Goldfinch Iron On Patches

Kids, Youth, and Adults love to collect our Bird Watching Academy & Camp iron-on patches. Our bird-watching patches help you keep track of the birds you have seen and identified. You can also display the patches on our Bird Watching Academy & Camp banners.

The American Goldfinch is a great iron-on patch to start your collection with. The patches are durable and can be sewn on or ironed on to just about anything.

American Goldfinch Stickers

Stickers are a great way for you to display your love for bird watching and the American Goldfinch. We sell a monthly subscription sticker pack. The sticker packs have 12 bird stickers. These sticker packs will help your kids learn new birds every month.

Bird Feeders For American Goldfinch

There are many types of bird feeders. Bird feeders are a great addition to your backyard. Bird feeders will increase the chances of attracting birds drastically. Both kids and adults will have a great time watching birds eat at these bird feeders. There are a wide variety of bird feeders on the market and it is important to find the best fit for you and your backyard.

Best Bird Houses for American Goldfinch

There are many types of bird houses. Building a bird house is always fun but can be frustrating. These 4 bird houses have become our favorites. Getting a bird house for kids to watch birds grow is always fun. We spent a little extra money on these bird houses but they have been worth the higher price and look great.

American Goldfinch Activities for Kids

We thought a fun Perler bead pattern would be fun for kids. Please download and print with 100% scale to fit perfectly with Perler bead patterns.

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