American Goldfinch

Spinus tristis

Male goldfinch on common evening primrose
Back view of male; notched tail
Female has dull olive-yellow plumage
Female drinking from an icicle; notched tail
Courtship feeding
Conical beak effective for crushing thistle seed
Male on American pokeweed with fruits
Female builds nest on her own from fine materials
So tightly woven, nest can hold water!
Female on nest secured by plant fibers and spider silk
Pale soft gape on bill of fledgling
Male feeds fledglings vegetarian diet
Male feeds fledgling sunflower seeds; fledgling with notched tail
Female offers regurgitated seeds
Juvenile female olive yellow
Juvenile male lemon yellow; darkish feathers on head
Clearly notched tail of immature male

Goldfinches are smaller than a house sparrow and breed late in the breeding season compared to other species.  Despite their bright yellow plumage they are not so easy to spot as they forage in the vegetation.  They are more often heard as they fly over head. Their young are fed regurgitated material consisting mostly of seeds, a high-energy food. They feed on the small seeds of gray birch, orchard grass,  and plants in the daisy family, all of which become available in late summer at Salter Grove.

They benefit from human activities that create more open habitats and favor the seed-producing plants they prefer.  Their continued presence in the park is no doubt related to the number of nearby bird feeders that offer food through the winter.