With a length of 11 to 14 cm (4.3 to 5.5 in) , a wingspan of 19 to 22 cm (7.5 to 8.7 in) the American Goldfinch is said to be small. It weighs between 11 to 20 g (0.39 to 0.71 oz). During winter it sheds all its feathers; in the spring, it sheds all but the wing and tail feathers, which are dark brown in the female and black in the male. the tail is 4.2 to 5.1 cm.

Habitat and Distribution

The summer breeding range stretches across North America from coast to coast. From the the north at Saskatchewan it stretches south across North America to North Carolina and northern California on the west coast. The bird is a short-distance migrant, moving south in response to colder weather and food shortages.


The diet consists of seeds from a variety of annual plants, such as weeds, grasses , trees and insects. In winter it eats at bird feeders provided by humans and will gather in large flocks when feeding.


Once a male has found a mate, he selects a territory. A tightly woven nest is built in late summer by the female in the branches of a deciduous shrub or tree. American Goldfinches lay four to six bluish-white eggs, the size of a peanut. The chicks hatch 12 to 14 days after incubation begins.

Calls and Songs

Produce a flight call that sounds like saying `potato chips'. Males have a courtship call that goes like `tee-yee`.