American Goldfinches (Carduelis tristis)

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

American Goldfinches (Carduelis tristis) are brilliantly colored birds and are usually welcome additions at any bird feeder. During the summer they are canary yellow and black, with the male having black coloration on the top of his head. The male is more brighly yellow than the female as well. During the summer, the male looks similar to the evening grosbeak, but American Goldfinches are much smaller.

They are found throughout North America and are frequently found in flocks and are often seen at backyard birdfeeders. They typically move south for the winter. They are fond of nyjer seeds, dandelion seeds, and sunflower seeds. You can attract these birds to your yard by planting sunflower seeds and/or having a birdfeeder.

rangemap for american goldfinch
American Goldfinch Rangemap

Because of their liking for sunflower and dandelion seeds, their bright yellow coloration may serve as a protective mechanism. During the summer when sunflowers and dandelions are abundant, American Goldfinches are bright yellow.

Notice in the You Tube video below how the goldfinch blends into the background when feeding on the sunflower:

During the winter, American Goldfinches change color by molting and their bright yellow feathers are replaced by more drab coloration as shown in the photo below. This change in coloration may reflect advantageous coloration due to the different plant life that may be around during the winter. The photo below shows a male goldfinch that is showing most of his winter coloration.

male goldfinch beginning to show winter coloration
Male American Goldfinch Showing Winter Coloration

American Goldfinches have a pleasant birdsong and you can hear it here: American Goldfinch Birdsong