Description of the American Goldfinch
Most of the backyard birds you will attract look the same year-round. Not so for the (sometimes) brightly colored American Goldfinch. When in full, brightly colored splendor, the male has a yellow body, neck, back and belly with a solid black cap with black and white on his wings and tail-feathers. The female is a yellowish-brown with wings and tail ranging from brown to black.
In the winter, males turn a dull brownish yellow, and females become olive-brown.
Longevity and Molting of the American Goldfinch
The American Goldfinch can live 7 to 10 years and, unlike our own species, the males usually live longer than females. They don’t usually migrate.
The American Goldfinch molts, or sheds and replaces it’s feathers, twice a year. Beginning in March and going through the summer, male American Goldfinches dawn a bright yellow plumage (probably to attract the attention of the females of the species) while in the winter their feathers are more drab, to help make it easier to hide from predators. (Apparently, companionship trumps safety — at least on occasion.)
Family Life of the American Goldfinch
After molting and becoming all showy and bright, they decorate their environment and begin breeding and nesting in late July, when there is a more abundant supply of natural food to nourish their young. They are one of the latest nesting of birds.
The female does all the nest building while the male stands guard, staying with his mate throughout the process. Once it’s time, the female usually lays 3-7 eggs.
Although they stay with the same mate during a given mating season, they may select new mates each year.
What Do American Goldfinches Eat?
American Goldfinches love backyards that provide seeds for them because they eat ONLY seeds and grains. No insects for these pretty, yellow birds unless it’s accidental ingestion. (It happens to the best of us.)
American Goldfinches are common in back yards and open areas; they prefer tube feeders but will sneak a treat from anywhere.