In Scope: American Goldfinch

American Goldfinch Drawing

And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly and swarm with living creatures, and let birds fly over the earth in the open expanse of the heavens. ~ Genesis 1:20


    In this very special edition of In Scope ~ I am featuring Washington States official State Bird, the American Goldfinch, also known as the Willow Goldfinch.  Nothing says spring better than watching the male goldfinches exchange their tan winter plumage for a more showy spring outfit of bright lemon yellow, topped off with a dapper black hat.

    I often see the male goldfinches during this season ~ singing their most beautiful songs from the tops of blossom laden apple trees.  Their delightful songs fill the spring air as the male claims his territory or attempts to attract a mate.

    Goldfinches are year round residents in Washington State, but I have chosen to feature them in spring since that is when we see them most often.  There is so much to learn about these cheery little finches, lets learn more interesting facts about this species.

Interesting Facts




God Thought of It First !

American Goldfinch female picture 



Gardening For and Feeding Goldfinches


    Since goldfinches are mainly seed eaters and only occasionally eat insects, goldfinches benefit from a variety of seed bearing plants.  They also are good birds to have in your yard for weed control ~ since some of their favorite foods include thistle and dandelion seeds.  Their favorite cultivated seed bearing flower is the sunflower.  If you grow sunflowers this spring and summer and leave them to stand even after the stalks and flowers are brown and dry, the goldfinches will enjoy the seeds when they have ripened in the fall.




   You can also create a 'wild corner' for wildlife.  In this wild area, you could let plants like dandelions and thistle grow so that goldfinches can enjoy the seeds.  If you don't want to let a corner "go wild" but still want to feed seed eating birds like goldfinches, here is a list of plants that seed eating birds enjoy.

Plant Picks for Goldfinches


Bachelor's buttons





Lettuce (You can let some lettuce plants in your vegetable garden go to seed.)


Nyger (or Niger)

Purple coneflower



Feeder Foods

    Goldfinches love to visit feeding stations that are stocked with their two favorite feeder treats ~ sunflower and thistle (or Nyger) seed.  They will eat from a variety of feeders ~ from tube, to hopper, to seed sock and tray feeders.  Thistle and Nyger seeds are are best served in tube feeders specially designed for this type of seed or in a seed sock since they are so small and lightweight that they can be blown away in the wind if fed in an open tray feeder or scratched out and wasted by other bird species who are looking for something else to eat !  Goldfinches will also eat feeder foods like white millet ~ although thistle and sunflower seeds are their favorites.


finch feeder

Zoom In: Species Profile


american goldfinch male

     The American Goldfinch's scientific name is Carduelis tristis.  This small bird of the finch family is even smaller than a sparrow, measuring only 4 1/2 to 5 inches long.  The male and female goldfinch look different from one another in the breeding season.  The male goldfinch is a bright lemon yellow in the breeding season with a white rump and black wings with white markings.  He also has a black tail and a black cap on his head.  The female is a dull greenish-tan-yellow color with gray hues and has black wings and tail.  She also has white wing markings.  The male looks similar to the female in the winter ~ molting his bright yellow plumage for a more dull appearance.

    Just as bright and cheery as their plumage ~ the American Goldfinches song is a welcome sound on beautiful spring days.  They sing while flying across the sky in an undulating ("roller-coaster" like) fashion.  The male will also sing beautiful melodies from a perch to defend his territory and attract a mate.

    The preferred habitat of the American Goldfinch is brushy areas, grasslands that offer weed seeds, and the near by trees in such areas.  They also like backyards and garden habitats that offer feeding stations and appropriate cover.  Since they are mostly seed eaters, goldfinches will flock to habitats that offer a variety of seeds to be gleaned.

    The nest of the American Goldfinch is a cup shape constructed of bark, grass and other plant materials, especially down.  It is usually placed in a small tree or shrub.  The female lays 4 - 5 very light blue, almost white eggs.  The American Goldfinch's nest is so well constructed and tightly weaved that once finished it is even watertight (able to hold water) !

    The American Goldfinch is a year round resident in parts of their range, including Washington State.  In other areas they are only breeding season or winter residents.  In the breeding season, Goldfinches can be found in British Columbia, east to Newfoundland, and south to Washington, Oregon, California, Colorado, Utah, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and North and South Carolina.  They winter across much of the United States (including Washington State).

Activity Pages

    This month I have created for you an American Goldfinch coloring page and a word game that you can play to find out how many words you can make out of the letters used in the words American Goldfinch.  I found over 50 words and I am sure that you can find many more !  I have also created a fun word search puzzle for Easter.  Click on the button below to download the activities.  They are available in a free downloadable PDF.  Just click here to download, print and enjoy !


    There are so many beautiful scriptures in the Bible about birds, how they sing and praise the Lord.  When I think of the goldfinch's song and this beautiful season of spring when birds are nesting and preparing to raise this year's broods ~ it makes me think of the verses in Psalm 104:10,12, which say,

    "He sends forth springs into the valleys; their waters run among the mountains....
    Beside them the birds of the heavens have their nests; they sing among the branches."
Psalm 104:10,12 AMP

   Imagine the sound of a bubbling spring or creek and the birds that live in that habitat ~ the image creates a wonderful picture of God's Creation in all of their spring beauty !  I love to think about how all of creation praises The Lord and shows how beautiful and creative He is.  I will close with these verses,

    "I will sing to The Lord as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have any being.
    May my meditation be sweet to Him; as for me, I will rejoice in The Lord."  Psalm 104:33-34 AMP

Join me next month for another exciting edition of In Scope ~ featuring the Black-headed Grosbeak ~ another of our delightful spring songbirds !  Thanks for visiting and God bless you.

                                        By, Jessi Wasell