Goldfinches Getting Ready for Summer

American Goldfinches have been active at the feeders lately. Over the weekend Judy took some photographs of male Goldfinches that show them almost done with molting out of their winter plumage, which is a dull gray.

American Goldfinches at the nyjer feeder.
American Goldfinches at the nyjer feeder.

Some time ago I wrote a post about why male Goldfinches are golden, which you can read here.


Basically, it’s all about attracting the lady Goldfinches. In reality it is not summer they are getting ready for, but the mating season.

Male American Goldfinch in winter.
Male American Goldfinch in winter.

Here’s what the male goldfinch looks like in winter.

Molting male American Goldfinch.
Molting male American Goldfinch.

And here’s he is early on in the molting process.

Female American Goldfinch
Female American Goldfinch

The females don’t bother with bright colors. It’s the males who have to prove themselves, apparently. Whether this is fair or not I leave to the judgement of others.

Goldfinch having an argument with a Dark-Eyed Junco.
Goldfinch having an argument with a Dark-Eyed Junco.

Though they are more skittish around people than the chickadees, goldfinches are still endearing little birds.

They agree to disagree.
They agree to disagree.

They have an odd, bouncy way of flying and a chattering song, which you can listen to here.

Do you have Goldfinches in your garden?

48 Comments on “Goldfinches Getting Ready for Summer

  1. We do have Goldfinches Jason but not the same variety that you have. Judy has excelled with the images of the birds.

    • I wonder if they are in the same genus. Some days Judy likes to sit on the back porch and take pictures of birds on the feeders. Luckily for me.

  2. I have Goldfinches, but mine haven’t begun to turn yet. The difference between Evanston and Elgin.

  3. I love your Goldfinches, no wonder the lady goldfinches are impressed by their smart summer outfits. We have goldfinches but they are different. They have a splash of bright red on their heads.

  4. Lovely photos! There are goldfinches as well but they have red caps on. I love their singings, always is different than others birds’.

  5. Yes I do have goldfinches in the garden. The numbers have swelled lately. I must say you have brighter goldfinches than ours. It won’t be long and they will be really bright.

  6. The birds here are patiently waiting…once our snow melts and there are patches of garden showing, the birds will descend in big groups and especially the goldfinches with the juncos getting at the remaining seeds. I love watching goldfinches eat seed from flower heads and they do their crazy acrobatics.

  7. They’re such cute birds. Nice photos. Like Marian, we had goldfinches enjoying the feeders all winter, but haven’t seen many lately.

  8. Great post and pictures. I do think the rule of thumb is the one who sits on the nest is the drabber of any bird species, so as to attract less attention. At least it works that way with the opposite, when the males tend the nest, the females are the flashy ones. 🙂

  9. We see the occasional little yellow bird, but they are always so fast-moving that ID is impossible. Guess it’s time to put up the kind of feeder that attracts them. Our most colorful visitor is the varied thrush, a larger bird with beautiful markings and lots of orange.

  10. Our Goldfinches are different to yours Jason, the male and female have a red splash on their face, it’s hard to tell them apart, the female has slightly less red and both have yellow wing parts. They do not have such a dramatic moult and colour change as yours. I enjoyed your link to the birdsong too and judy’s lovely photos.

  11. The European goldfinch was introduced to Australia and is quite common in the temperate areas: it has a little red patch on its head. Those photos are magnificent and the American goldfinch looks quite lovely!

  12. I haven’t seen one yet but that doesn’t mean they aren’t here. I’m usually so busy looking for and at plants that I don’t see birds unless they fly right in front of me. Goldfinches are beautiful birds though!

  13. What a stunning little bird, I do love his little yellow coat, I am very fond of the finch family. What a lovely

  14. Ours are just starting to sport their pretty colors here. They are entertaining little songbirds, aren’t they? And they stick around all winter–along with the cardinals, juncos, chickadees, and house finches. Acrobatic, yes. 🙂

  15. My neighbors have goldfinch feeders and I enjoy watching them fly by. Lovely little birds. Do you have many squirrels at your feeders? are they problematic?

  16. wonderful photos. I always forget that the males change colour and then wonder where they go in winter. I see them quite often in the summer as we have a lot of thistle in our field, apparently it’s their favourite food.

  17. Hello Jason, you seem to get all the wonderful and exotic birds in your garden while we’ve only just managed to have bluetits and robins become comfortable with the feeders. It’s been a very slow process but in the meantime, I’m happy to look at your amazing pictures.

  18. I adore finches of all sorts and stripes and bars. You photos are great and what a nice intro to spring!

  19. There is no distinction between the male and female goldfinch here (Carduelis carduelis) and I’m so glad that they have returned to my garden too.
    Judy captured those birds beautifully Jason and I think in his winter coat he more resembles our female Chaffinch than anything else.

    • I don’t think I have ever seen a Chaffinch, we don’t have them hear. Given that so many English birds are common in North America, I wonder why not.

  20. The male goldifnches here are showing a little more yellow color, but they’re not bright yet! There is more singing going on out there, though, and I swear there’s more friskiness at the feeders!

    • I don’t know if I’ve seen more friskiness at the feeders yet, but there are definitely more public displays of affection (to put it mildly) among the squirrels.

  21. I think our American Goldfinches have up and left us! I’ve only seen a couple here and there over the past few days, while all winter we had 20-30 at a time around the feeders. I’ll sorely miss the little ones!

  22. Sigh. So pretty. I never see them here. Good thing I can visit your blog =)

    • According to the Cornell Lab, they do hang out in Texas during the winter. Maybe you should put up some nyjer seed and see what happens.

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