Birds

American Goldfinch

The American goldfinch (Spinus tristis) is a small yellow, or golden, songbird in the finch family. During breeding season a male American goldfinch’s impressively bright summer plumage and black forehead draws a lot of attention — they are difficult to miss. In the winter, however, the goldfinch’s plumage can appear drab and blotchy.

The goldfinch in the photo below is a transitional male. Note the variation in feathers on the forehead above the eye. This bird will molt and eventually drab-yellow feathers will replace the black feathers.

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American goldfinch male. Image Credit: Animal Perspectives

American goldfinches are year round residents in the Northeast and in much of the lower 48. The drab plumage of female goldfinches allows the birds to camouflage in their habitat as shown below.

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American goldfinch. Image Credit: Animal Perspectives

The photograph below is good representation of a goldfinch’s body feathers. This wind-blown goldfinch is perched on a small lightning rod and at this angle the loose, downy barbs are exposed — only the tips of the body feathers are colored. These tips are called the vane.

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American goldfinch. Image Credit: Animal Perspectives

Here is another photograph of the same goldfinch that shows the differently colored body feathers.

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American goldfinch. Image Credit: Animal Perspectives

Here is another photo of the same bird with all of its feathers in place. Even in its winter plumage the American goldfinch is still strikingly beautiful.

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American goldfinch. Image Credit: Animal Perspectives

American goldfinches are common at backyard feeders and in gardens all year round, especially in the winter. Feeding backyard birds is easy and can be done in a number of ways. For more information read How to get started feeding wild birds and read about the different ways to attract wild birds.

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Also read…

Quick and Dirty: Steps to Cleaning Your Feeders

Quick Reads: 3 Nature Books for the Young Ones

Quick Reads: 3 (More) Nature Books for the Young Ones

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Categories: Birds, Gallery