The Eastern or American Goldfinch (Carduelis
tristis) is a typical North American seed-eating
member of the finch (Fringillidae) family, averaging
11 cm in length. It breeds across southern Canada
from British Columbia to Newfoundland and through
most of the United States north of the Gulf and
core Southwestern States.
It prefers trees in open places, especially in
orchards and along roadsides. As winter approaches,
the goldfinch moves short distances towards the
south. Its winter range includes southern British
Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario, New Brunswick, Nova
Scotia, and most of the United States.
In spring the birds moult all but their black
wing and tail feathers, and the bills of both
sexes turn orange. The male assumes brilliant
canary yellow plumage and a striking jet black
cap; he has a very pleasing call song. In flight,
a white rump contrasts with the black tail. The
common winter plumage is a duller olive-brown
with some yellow still showing on the head. In
some winter ranges the birds lose all traces of
yellow, becoming predominantly medium tan-grey
banded colour, with an olive cast evident only
on close viewing.
Their flight path is not straight horizontally;
instead, they generally fly while going slightly
up and down, making an ocean wave-shaped path.
The American Goldfinch lays four to six bluish
white eggs, roughly the size of peanuts.
Their favorite foods (at least in the U.S.) are
thistle and teasel seeds. However, they also eat
small seeds from other weeds, grasses and trees,
tree buds, maple sap and sometimes insects. In
winter, they are often seen in flocks.
This is the state bird of Iowa, New Jersey, and
Washington. This bird is also known as the Wild
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