American Goldfinch

The American Goldfinch shows up at my feeders around mid-April, and by September they are all gone. But when they are here, it is common to see these beautiful little birds. They can be seen in all areas of Vancouver Island, and they are regular visitors to bird feeders all summer long. The American Goldfinch is a member of the finch family. It is quite small, only up to 13 cm long, while its wingspan is up to 22 cm.

The American Goldfinch has a pointed bill which is usually pink except in the spring when it turns orange. Its body color ranges from a bright yellow to a dull brown. The wings are dark brown, almost black, with white wing bars, while the tail is short and notched and is white underneath. However, the colors of the feathers vary depending on the sex of the bird as well as the season of the year.

American Goldfinch, Vancouver Island, BC
American Goldfinch, Vancouver Island, BC, photo by Bud Logan

The American Goldfinch prefers to nest in trees located in open spaces. Roadside trees and forest edge trees surrounding fields are among the preferred locations of the American Goldfinch. The American Goldfinch is well known for being a very good nest builder.

They breed later in the summer than most songbirds. Their breeding is timed to coincide with the peak abundance of thistle seed. They will sometimes nest in small colonies. The nest is usually built in an upright fork of a shrub, tree, or occasionally a dense weed. The female builds a tight, small cup of plant fibers, binding it with spider webs, and then lines it with thistledown. she will lay up to 6 eggs and incubate them for about 14 days.

The male brings her food while she’s sitting on the nest, and while she broods the young for the first few days after they hatch. After that, both parents bring food to the young. The young leave the nest within 17 days, but the parents will continue to feed the young for a few more weeks. American Goldfinches will sometimes lay a second set of eggs if the year is good with lots of feed.

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