Nests & Eggs: Goldfinch

Plate 41: American Goldfinch

Spinus tristis

Small, twittering bird with a fondness for thistle seeds.

The American or Common Goldfinch often is called “wild canary.” Altho he is not a canary, his small size, color and twittering notes remind people of their pets. While smaller than sparrows, these birds are rugged and winter over much of their nesting range. Their habit of flocking and tendency to feed on weed seeds makes them easily found.

The male of this species is a rich lemon yellow with a small black mark above the bill, black wings and tail. The wings show distinct white bars especially in winter when the yellow has faded to the more somber hue of the female. The tail is forked with white tips on the outer feathers and coverts. The bill is yellow.

Goldfinches are noted for their cheerful dispositions. A feeding flock can be heard uttering twittering conversational notes even in winter. Spring brings the notes of their beautiful but varied song which usually can be identified as “tzee,” or “per-chic-o-ree,” which is the song heard when the birds pass overhead.

Goldfinches nest late in the season and use quantities of thistle down or similar fiber in building their compact homes. Fondness for thistles, both seeds and down, often gives him the name “thistle-bird,” and many artists picture him perched on this colorful weed.

Introduction to Our Bird Friends, Vol. 1
  • Print out the notebooking pages provided below.
  • Read the goldfinch story in Bird Biographies out loud.
  • Have a younger student orally narrate what was read. He can then copy a few lines of his narration onto the notebooking pages.
  • Older students can read the text, Plate XLI: American Goldfinch, and provide a written narration.
  • Sketch the bird. This encourages attention to detail, which will aid in identifying the bird later on. Another option is to use the printables provided below.
  • Sketch the nest of the bird, along with the eggs. Note where the nest is usually found.
  • Older students can include the taxonomy.
  • Learn more about the American goldfinch at Cornell.
  • On one notebooking page note the facts:
    • Description.
    • Habitat.
    • Range.
    • Food.
    • Nest.
    • Eggs.
    • Call.
  • The goldfinch is covered in The Burgess Bird Book: CHAPTER XXXIII. A Royal Dresser and a Late Nester.
Additional Resources

30 Narration Ideas
At some point you might appreciate some variety.

The Bird Study sections of our free nature study series: Our Wonderful World:

Free Nature Studies: Our Wonderful World
Printables & Notebooking Pages

American Goldfinch Notebooking Pages
Free simple notebooking set.

American Goldfinch
Bird picture for notebook.

Chicoree the Goldfinch
Corresponding print from The Burgess Bird Book.

Fifty Favorite Birds Coloring Book

Fifty Favorite Birds Coloring Book
Dover Nature Coloring Book based on Fifty Birds of Town and City by Bob Hines. Includes the goldfinch.

American Goldfinch Range Map
For notebook from Cornell.

Bird Facts Notebooking Page
One option in a more graphic organizer style that is especially nice for noting the facts and range.

Enjoy the entire series:
Nest & Eggs ~ Intro & Free eBook
Free Bird Studies: Nests & Eggs ~ Complete Series

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