Guelph, Ontario

 Fun Facts About American Goldfinches

  • Goldfinches are found across North America. The three species include the American, Lesser and Lawrence’s Goldfinch.

  • Goldfinches are sometimes referred to as wild canaries. They are actually in the finch family as their name suggests.

  •  Residential flocks of American Goldfinches roam widely between food supplies during the winter and have been recorded moving over 4 miles between multiple feeding stations in a single day. Other records show movements of over 30 miles in a single winter.

  • American Goldfinches have an interesting flight call consisting of four syllables that can be likened to “po-ta-to-chip.”

  • The genus name, Caruelis, is from the Latin word carduus, which means “thistle.” Goldfinches are very dependent on thistles for food and even use thistledown to line their nests.

  • The American Goldfinch is one of the latest breeding songbirds, waiting to nest until mid-to-late summer when thistle seeds and down are readily available.

  • When breeding for the first time, young American Goldfinches will begin nesting at least two weeks later than experienced adults.

  • American Goldfinches typically have only one brood per year, although veteran females may produce an additional brood. To facilitate a second nesting, a female will leave her original mate in care of the first brood and find a new male as her partner for the second nesting.

  • The female American Goldfinch chooses the nest site, builds the nest and incubates the eggs all on her own. The male feeds the female on the nest throughout incubation and takes on an ever increasing role in feeding the nestlings as they grow older.

  • American Goldfinches can weave their nest so tightly that it will temporarily hold water.

  • Goldfinches usually lay five pale-blue or greenish-blue eggs that will hatch in about 12 days. Nestlings will fledge about 12 days after that.

  • While most Brown-headed Cowbird eggs fool the female American Goldfinch and are incubated to hatching, few cowbird chicks live longer than three or four days. This is due to the low amounts of protein found in the vegetarian diet of the goldfinch. 

  • Young American Goldfinches are dependent on their parents for at least three weeks after fledging. Be sure to watch and listen for their energetic begging as they harass their parents for food at your feeders.

  • Female American Goldfinches are dominant over males in the summer and appear to be subservient to them in the winter. See if you call tell a difference at your feeders.

  • American Goldfinches are common feeder visitors and prefer thistle (nyjer) and sunflower seeds.

  • American Goldfinches are rather acrobatic, often dipping upside down while feeding on weed seeds such as coneflowers and sunflowers.