Bird Sounds: American Goldfinch

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An American Goldfinch and her nestling.

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American Goldfinch Calls

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The bright yellow goldfinch is one welcome sign of spring. These small birds love to visit the birdfeeder, especially to eat sunflower and nyjer seed. They have a bouncy way of flying during which they often make their po-ta-to-chip calls. Learn more and listen to their distinct birdsong.

American Goldfinches are known for their bright yellow color, however, they molt in later winter as well as late summer, so the bright yellow color emerges in early spring—and an easy way to mark the season! The males have a bright yellow body with black forehead, black wings with white markings. Adult females are duller yellow beneath, olive above. 

They are truly vegetarian birds and only eat seed, especially from the Asteraceae family: sunflowers, thistle, asters, etc. The males sing exuberantly during spring, however, the birds nest much later than most of their peers—once their beloved thistles and milkweeds have gone to seed. They use the material from the seedbeds to build their nests!

If you’d like to attract the American goldfinch, include milkweed and thistle in your landscape! It’s fun to watch them balance on the seedbeds to pluck out the seeds. They’ll also eat the seeds that fall below feeders, but try to keep the ground well raked because these birds can get contagious diseases.

Have you heard an American Goldfinch? Add your comments below. Be sure to let us know where you live or where you’ve heard this bird sound before!

Click here to listen to the sounds of other birds, compliments of The Macaulay Library at The Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

About The Author

Tom Warren

Tom Warren is a lifelong bird enthusiast. Tom is also committed to protecting birds and their habitat as a Trustee for both Massachusetts and New Hampshire Audubon, and the Harris Nature Center. Read More from Tom Warren

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