Fun American Goldfinch Facts For Kids

Aashita Dhingra
Feb 07, 2023 By Aashita Dhingra
Originally Published on Aug 29, 2021
Edited by Jacob Fitzbright
One of the interesting American goldfinch facts is that they are very dependent on thistle plants for their food source.
Age: 3-18
Read time: 6.0 Min

American goldfinches are also known as wild canaries and are from the finch family, as their name suggests. The American goldfinches are also the state bird of New Jersey, Iowa, and Washington.

Goldfinches are diurnal birds and hence are most active during the day. Goldfinches have excellent flying skills and fly in dipping and rising wavelike patterns. These birds are very exclusively fond of just seeds for the diet.

These birds are commonly known for being feeders. You can find them in your backyard if you have installed feeders full of thistle and sunflowers for them.

Goldfinches are also long birds with cone-shaped beaks. They are bright yellow in color, giving them their iconic look. American goldfinches are known for feather molting—their color changes with every molt.

During winter, both male and female goldfinches have dull and brownish feathers on their bodies; also, their winter plumage helps them to keep warm. During summer, goldfinches have bright yellow feathers.

For more relatable content, check out these evening grosbeak facts and pine siskin facts for kids.

American Goldfinch Interesting Facts

What type of animal is an American goldfinch?

The American goldfinch, Spinus tristis, is a goldfinch species found in North America.

What class of animal does an American goldfinch belong to?

The American goldfinch, scientific name Spinus tristis, belongs to the Aves class of the family Fringillidae.

How many American goldfinches are there in the world?

According to the North American Breeding Bird Survey, the North American population of American goldfinches has been stable since 1996, whereas the Canadian population has seen a decline of 0.7%. Their breeding population has been estimated at 44 million, indicating that it is a species of Least Concern.

Where does an American goldfinch live?

The American goldfinch bird lives across North America in places filled with brush and thistle plants. They can be found on the border of the USA and Canada and is the official bird of Washington State, Iowa, and New Jersey.

What is an American goldfinch's habitat?

These North American birds prefer to live in weedy fields, open floodplains, and other overgrown areas with an abundance of sunflower, aster, and thistle plants that they can consume as food and trees to make a nest on. Goldfinches can also be commonly found in suburbs, parks, and backyards.

Who do American goldfinches live with?

The American goldfinches live with birds of similar species, such as pine siskins and common redpolls.

How long does an American goldfinch live?

The American goldfinches are small birds that can live for four to eight years approximately. The oldest known American goldfinch lived for 10 years and five months.

Their life expectancy also depends on factors like the environment they are living in and whether they are male or female. The male goldfinches are known to live longer than the female goldfinches.

How do they reproduce?

For American goldfinches, the breeding season starts in late summer. They wait till mid to late summer to nest when thistle seeds are available in plenty.

These North American birds brood once per year, although veteran females can brood twice, and lay five pale blue or greenish eggs that hatch in 12 days. The female goldfinches leave their first brood in the care of their male partner to facilitate sound nesting.

For breeding, the female goldfinches choose the nest site, build the nest, and take care of the nest throughout incubation, while male goldfinches have the responsibility to feed them all. Nestlings become independent 12 days after the eggs hatch.

What is their conservation status?

The American goldfinch bird is a species of Least Concern, mostly because its massive population has not changed since 1996. They are not rare.

American Goldfinch Fun Facts

What do American goldfinches look like?

American Goldfinch

The American goldfinch is known for feather molting. The American goldfinch molts feathers during fall and grows a new set of feathers that are denser than their summer plumage.

The new feathers are usually softer and add an extra layer of protection to keep them warm in winter. The goldfinch also changes its color with each feather molt.

In winter plumage, their legs, feet, and bill are grayish-brown in color, whereas in the breeding plumage, their color changes to a buffy yellow-orange color.

Moreover, the spring male goldfinch is bright yellow and shiny black, and the female goldfinch and both the genders in winter are duller and can be identified by their conical bill, pointed and short notched tail, wingbacks, and lack of streaking. During molting, their body looks very patchy.

How cute are they?

Male goldfinches are bright yellow in color. This brilliant yellow gives them an extremely beautiful and cute look.

How do they communicate?

American goldfinches have a flight call with which they communicate. This American goldfinch song consists of four syllables.

How big is an American goldfinch?

The American goldfinch has a length of around 4.1-5.9 in (10.5-15 cm), and its wingspan measures around 7.9-8.9 in (20-22.5 cm). This is just slightly bigger than the lesser goldfinch, a bird from the same family.

How fast can an American goldfinch fly?

The goldfinches are swift flyers. You can see the speed of these birds by watching them from your window, though their exact flight speed is not known.

How much does an American goldfinch weigh?

The American goldfinch weighs 0.4-0.7 oz (10-21 g), almost the same as the weight of the European goldfinch, a bird from the same family.

What are the male and female names of the species?

There are no different names given to the male and female goldfinches. However, you can spot the difference by observing them closely. The female goldfinches are more dominant during the summer, and the adult males are more dominant during the winter.

What would you call a baby American goldfinch?

An American goldfinch baby is called a chick.

What do they eat?

American goldfinch food consists of weeds, thistles, sunflower seeds, coneflower seeds, alder seeds, birch seeds, western red cedar seeds, and elm seeds. These birds prefer seeds exclusively as their food. They are also common feeder birds, and in feeders, they prefer thistle and sunflower.

Are they dangerous?

The American goldfinch is harmless to humans. But they possess threats from predators like blue jays, American kestrels, weasels, eastern garter snakes, and cats that hunt and eat them.

Would they make a good pet?

It is illegal to keep these birds as pets in the United States because the Migratory Bird Treaty Act protects them from capture, harassment, and harm. 

Did you know...

According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, the brown-headed cowbirds lay their eggs in the American goldfinch's nest. However, only a few of those hatched eggs survive because of the goldfinches strict seed diet.

Naming the American goldfinch

The goldfinch's genus name is Caruelis, which is Latin for thistle. This is because they depend a lot on thistle for food. On the other hand, they have the name goldfinch because of how the male goldfinch shines under the summer sun.

What kind of trees do goldfinches nest in?

The American goldfinch's nests are weaved so tight that they can hold water temporarily. The American goldfish attaches their nest to supporting twigs and spider webs.

They prefer to place their nest at heights of 4-10 ft (1.2-3 m). Goldfinches nest in habitats with trees and shrubs and sometimes even in a loose colony.

The female goldfinch makes the nest in a fairly open setting where two or three vertical branches join. The nest is usually shaded using clusters of leaves or needles from above but is clearly open from below.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other birds from our myna interesting facts and Anna's hummingbird surprising facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable goldfinch coloring pages.

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Written by Aashita Dhingra

Bachelors in Business Administration

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Aashita DhingraBachelors in Business Administration

Based in Lucknow, India, Aashita is a skilled content creator with experience crafting study guides for high school-aged kids. Her education includes a degree in Business Administration from St. Mary's Convent Inter College, which she leverages to bring a unique perspective to her work. Aashita's passion for writing and education is evident in her ability to craft engaging content.

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