American Goldfinch Species Fun Facts- Female Winter Plumage, Nesting Material, Eating Habits and Mating Behavior

This article focuses on the female American goldfinch’s nesting habits and diet. This particular bird is one of them that is often seen eating seeds and building nests in backyards across the United States.

Female American Goldfinch Munching away on some tasty flowers and seeds at Huntley Meadows Park in Alexandria, VA.

Female American Goldfinch Munching away on some tasty flowers at Huntley Meadows Park in Alexandria, VA.
Female American Goldfinch Munching away on some tasty flowers at Huntley Meadows Park in Alexandria, VA. | Source

Detroit and Houston are some of the areas that host these birds' nests for months at a time. Some also provide feeders for these yellow birds.

Male and female American goldfinches are also known by their scientific name, Carduelis tristis. People with enough yard space to attract these birds like seeing their vibrant yellow color, which becomes more pronounced when a whole flock descends on a particular garden in order to use feeders or for breeding.

Female American Goldfinch Feeding at Sunflowers

The males and females will both eat from seed tube birdfeeders that you place in your garden. Some researchers think that residential birdfeeders have increased the survival rate of these birds and they are now more comfortable in residential communities.

American Goldfinch Diet

American goldfinches eat grains and they use their specialized beaks and feet to remove seeds that grow in the wild.

Female American Goldfinch

Female American Goldfinch
Female American Goldfinch | Source

If you use a birdfeeder, you will find that these birds prefer sunflower seeds, millet and Nyjer. Millet is not too expensive and is used in lots of birdfeed mixes. Millet is rich in protein, fiber, calcium and B vitamins. You can even save money by growing it as part of your own birdseed garden.

Goldfinches Feeding on Nyjer Seed Feeder

Do These Birds Migrate?

While climate change has affected the migratory patterns of some birds, the female American goldfinch still migrates. For this reason, bird watchers are not able to enjoy her bright colors right throughout the year. These birds are the only ones in their subfamily to change their coat completely during winter.

Birdbath for Goldfinches, Robins and Bluejays- Goldfinch Birdbath Top and Pedestal w/Glazed Interior in Hand-Painted by Burley Clay

Breeding and Nesting Habits

Typically, female American goldfinches are not as brightly colored as the males. This is because the males use their bright coloring to attract the females. The female bird has more brown feathers and looks duller than the male.

Male (left) and female (right) American Goldfinches (Carduelis tristis) at a thistle feeder.

Male (left) and female (right) American Goldfinches (Carduelis tristis) at a thistle feeder.
Male (left) and female (right) American Goldfinches (Carduelis tristis) at a thistle feeder. | Source

The males are also good at doing interesting flight routines, which they use to impress the female finches. They are usually monogamous birds and have a single brood each year.

These birds are not overly aggressive. However when they are building their nests they do become very territorial. Once they find a suitable spot and have built their nest, they become less aggressive.

American Goldfinch Nest. First Hatching ?

How do Female American Goldfinches Build their Nest?

These pretty yellow birds build nests that are shaped like cups. They use materials that they find in their immediate environment to build shelters for their eggs. For example, they utilize twigs, grass and bits of bark to construct their nests.

You will usually find goldfinch nests hidden in bushes. Birdwatchers may also notice the adults gathering the materials that they need for a cup that is built in a tree. Usually, the female American goldfinch lays an average of 4 eggs in her nest. Some Carduelis tristis nests have as much as six while others may contain three lightly colored blue eggs.

256 Page Book on North American Birds: National Geographic Backyard Guide

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Comments 2 comments

SallyTX profile image

SallyTX 2 years ago from Only In Texas!

Such a pretty little bird. Almost like canaries! I wish we had them here in TX! Voted up and interesting! ;D


jtrader profile image

jtrader 2 years ago Author

They are quite lovely. Thanks Sally!

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