Photos and article by Kathryn Mann
I love American Goldfinches. They are a wild bird, yet they look like an exotic species you would find at a Pet store. Perhaps that is why they are often called the Wild Canary. The birds are found throughout Oklahoma especially at the edge of fields when flowering thistle plants are around.
Male American Goldfinch enjoying the Oklahoma sun near Bartlesville
The Goldfinch is a small bird measuring only about 4 1/2 inches in length. Male Goldfinches are bright yellow with a black forehead and a small white rump. Their tail and wings are black and bordered in white edges. The females are olive on top and dull yellow below.
Female American Goldfinch
Unlike most birds Goldfinches are vegetarian eating primarily seeds and other plant material. Most other birds at least eat insects.
The American Goldfinch is a songbird, but unlike other songbirds who build their nests and breed in the middle of Spring, they wait until June or July when Thistle is present which they use to line their nests.
The beautiful back side of a male Goldfinch
Goldfinches have lived more than eleven years.
A bird's feather is a similar to hair or nails on humans. When feathers become old or damaged on birds they are replaced. The replacement of all or some feathers is called a molt. The American Goldfinch is the only finch that sheds its feathers twice in a year. After they molt in the fall the male has the same dull coloration as the female.
A newborn American Goldfinch
Goldfinches are great acrobats and often hang upside down to eat.
The acrobatic Goldfinch hanging onto the stem of a tall weed
In the winter Goldfinches sometimes stay warm by huddling in small cavities under snow.