American Goldfinch

American Goldfinch Spinus tristis (Gmelin 1789)

Appearance: -Adult males and females look quite different. In spring and early summer the males are brilliant bright yellow with black forehead, black wings with white markings, and white patches both above and beneath the tail. Adult females are a good bit duller yellow beneath, olive above. Winter birds are drab, unstreaked brown, with blackish wings and two pale wingbars.

Natural History: The American Goldfinch is an abundant and widely distributed species across much North America. Highly granivorous, with strong preference for seeds of Compositae.


S. t. tristis (Linnaeus, 1758).

S. t. pallidus Mearns, 1890.

S. t. salicamans Grinnell, 1897. 

S. t. jewetti (van Rossem, 1943).

Object of study: irruptions across southern States, and if it engages in mimicry at all.

Flight call: The tsee-tsi-tsi-tsit (or po-ta-to-chip) flight call is the most widely used vocalization. Flight calls not easily confused with other finches. Flight call, like with other finches, functions to locate and maintain auditory contact with mate and/or flockmates.

Irruptions: Not known to be highly irruptive, but wintering numbers can fluctuate from year to year in the very southern part of its range in Georgia, Florida and Louisiana.

FiRN Needs: Recordings of song from the entire distribution area would be appreciated.

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