American Goldfinch (Carduelis tristis)

A gold-colored bird with black wings and cap sits on a birdfeeder peg.

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The American goldfinch is a popular visitor to birdfeeders throughout its range, which includes the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area.

We usually think of birds nesting in the spring, but goldfinches don't begin to nest until July and its not unusual to find active nests even as late as early September!

Females usually lay five eggs and spend nearly 95% of their time on the nest once incubation begins, rarely leaving to feed or rest. She can spend so much of the time on the nest because the male brings her food.


  • Key ID Features: Sparrow-sized. Males gold with black wings and forehead. Both sexes are yellow/olive during the winter.
  • Present in Park: Year round resident.
  • Habitat: Weedy fields, open forest, wooded neighborhoods. Nests are tightly woven plant material and spider/caterpillar silk lodged in a tree branch fork.
  • Voice: Several different calls. Listen to their call

Last updated: December 28, 2017

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

111 E. Kellogg Blvd., Suite 105
Saint Paul, MN 55101


(651) 293-0200
This is the general phone line at the Mississippi River Visitor Center. Please leave a voicemail if we miss your call and expect a return call within 1 day, often sooner.

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