The average Goldfinch is 12-13 cm long with a wingspan of 21-25 cm and a weight of 14 to 19 grams. The sexes are similar, with a red face, black and white head, warm brown upperparts, white underparts with buff flanks and breast patches, and black and yellow wings. Males can be distinguished by a larger, darker red mask that extends just behind the eye. In females, the red face does not reach the eye. The ivory-coloured bill is long and pointed. In breeding condition have a white bill, with a greyish or blackish mark at the tip for the rest of the year. Juveniles have a plain head, greyer back and yellow wing stripe.
Habitat and Distribution
The goldfinch is native to Europe, North Africa, and western and central Asia. It is found in open, partially wooded lowlands and is a resident in the milder west of its range, but migrates from colder regions. It will also make local movements, even in the west, to escape bad weather.
The goldfinch's preferred food is small seeds such as those from thistles and teasels, but insects are also taken when feeding young. It also regularly visits bird feeders in winter.
Goldfinches nest in the outer twigs of tall leafy trees, or even in bamboo, laying four to six eggs, which hatch in 11-14 days.
Calls and Songs
The song is a pleasant silvery twittering. The call is a melodic tickeLIT, and the song is a pleasant tinkling medley of trills and twitters, but always including the trisyllabic call phrase or a teLLIT-teLLIT-teLLIT.