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American Goldfinch Carduelis tristis


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American Goldfinch, breeding male
credit: mdf/CCSA

© Lang Elliot/ (audio)

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Family: Fringillidae, Finches view all from this family

Description ADULT BREEDING MALE Has largely bright yellow plumage with contrasting black cap and forehead; mostly black wings have a faint yellow wing bar. Rump and undertail coverts are white and contrast with black tail. ADULT NONBREEDING MALE Recalls breeding male, but yellow elements of plumage are yellow-buff above (brightest on face), grading to grayish white on belly; black on crown and forehead usually absent. Wing bar on greater coverts is more apparent and pale lesser coverts (bright yellow in breeding male) are whitish and form a second wing bar. ADULT FEMALE Similar to winter male, but brighter yellow overall in summer (with white upper wing bar, buff lower one) and grayer overall in winter (when both wing bars are buff). JUVENILE Recalls nonbreeding female but duller.

Dimensions Length: 4 1/2-5" (11-13 cm)

Habitat Common in open woodland and forest edge; widespread resident, but a summer visitor to north.

Observation Tips Easy to see.

Range Plains, New England, Western Canada, Rocky Mountains, Great Lakes, Southeast, Florida, Eastern Canada, California, Southwest, Mid-Atlantic, Northwest, Texas

Voice Song is a series of chattering whistles and squeaks; calls include a tinkling whistle.

Discussion Familiar bird of weedy fields. Forms flocks outside breeding season and often feeds on thistle seeds. Breeding male is stunning. Sexes are dissimilar.