AMERICAN GOLDFINCH

AMERICAN GOLDFINCH (Spinus tristis)

The American goldfinch is a permanent resident in PEI, helped by people providing feeders. It shows not only sexual dimorphism but also seasonal changes. The male is a bright yellow in the summer but olive green in the winter. Below are photos of ‘half and half’ American goldfinches in April, when the males turn back yellow again – gradually.

The French name of the bird, chardonneret, refers to the fact that it feeds from the seeds of the thistle (chardon in French) and in addition will use the seed silks to line its nest. This bird is mainly a seed eater and it loves sunflower seeds, as can be seen below.

This finch has a unique flying pattern, which helps in identification. It ‘makes waves’ (literally) , and has a specific ‘tidididi’ call during the ascending phase of the wave. American goldfinches also have melodious songs, which are not at all ‘sad’ as their Latin name (tristis means ‘sorrowful’) would imply.

American Goldfinch, breeding male - Summerside area, PEI - May 25, 2018 - © Jodi Arsenault
American Goldfinch, breeding male – Parts of winter plumage still visible – Summerside area, PEI – May 25, 2018 – © Jodi Arsenault
Fluffy American goldfinch trying to stay warm - Jan. 3, 2014 - © Wanda Bailey
Fluffy American goldfinch trying to stay warm – Jan. 3, 2014 – © Wanda Bailey
American goldfinch feeding on maple seed - Margate area, PEI - Dec. 25, 2016 - by Chris Rice
American goldfinch feeding on maple seed – Margate area, PEI – Dec. 25, 2016 – by Chris Rice
American goldfinch close up - Charlottetown, PEI - Feb. 24, 2016 - by Matt Beardsley
Close up of an American Goldfinch in winter plumage – Charlottetown, PEI – Feb. 24, 2016 – by Matt Beardsley
American Goldfinch nest with 3 eggs - Margate area, PEI - Aug. 3, 2017 - © Chris Rice
American Goldfinch nest with 3 eggs – Margate area, PEI – Aug. 3, 2017 – Chris Rice
American goldfinch with 'half and half' plumage - PEI, April 2012 - © Denise Motard
American goldfinch with ‘half and half’ plumage – PEI, April 2012 – © Denise Motard
American Goldfinches at feeders - North Rustico, PEI - Dec. 22, 2017 - © Matt Beardsley
American Goldfinches at feeders – North Rustico, PEI – Dec. 22, 2017 – © Matt Beardsley

The video below shows three American goldfinches preening in a dead Dutch honeysuckle. Then toward the end a song sparrow lands in that vine.

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