Finches are classified as small to medium birds in the Passerine or Perching Bird order. Finches have cone shaped beaks that are adapted for eating various types of seeds. They often have very colorful plumage (feathers) and they are found in a wide range of habitats where they stay all year round.
Backside view of an American Goldfinch in a tree in Lower Town Harpers Ferry. You can very clearly see the yellow back and black feathers of the bird in the image but you cannot see its face.
American Goldfinch in a tree in Lower Town Harpers Ferry
NPS Photo/A. Cook

American Goldfinch (Spinus tristis)

• Goldfinches are very strict vegetarians and try to eat only vegetables and seeds. They sometimes accidentally eat an insect.
• When you see goldfinches fly, they bounce and roller coaster up and down, often chirping as they fly
• Goldfinches love to nest in weedy frields, open floodplains, and other overgrown plant areas with shrubs and trees
A black and white drawing of an American Goldfinch
Illustration of an American Goldfinch
NPS/Intern Tristan Thomas

Identification Information:

• Size: Sparrow sized or smaller (Extra Small)
• Color: Adult males in spring/summer are bright yellow with black forehead and wings, females are a duller yellow. In winter both males and females are brown with blackish wings.
All of the above information is an abbreviated version of information gathered from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Please visit their website for more in-depth bird information.

Last updated: September 13, 2019

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Harpers Ferry National Historical Park
National Park Service
PO Box 65

Harpers Ferry , WV 25425


304 535-6029

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