Wed Wildlife: American Goldfinch

During a live bird presentation to Nature Day Campers at the Chippewa Nature Center, Barb and Joe Rogers of the Wildlife Rescue Association asked the kids to name their favorite bird.

One favorite was the American goldfinch, a small bird that shines like a speck of summer sun. If this were a bird in the rainforest, it would be very famous for its brilliant colors of black and yellow and its cheerful attitude.

American goldfinch is very common in Michigan. Males stand out like a beacon in bright yellow, with wings and a black cap distinguished. The adorable shapes act as a decoy for predators. The female has calmer colours, which helps her hide while incubating eggs or warming her young. It is olive yellow in color and can disappear into the vegetation.

American goldfinch eats some berries and insects, but its diet consists mainly of seeds; Adults even feed their chicks festering seeds. They are easily attracted to feeding stations, preferring sunflower seeds and thistle seeds. They will also feed on many other seeds, including goldenrod, aster, burdock, dandelion, and dandelion seeds, and garden flower seed heads such as zinnia, kernels, cosmos, and lettuce.

These bright little birds nest in late summer, usually in August, when very few other birds are nesting and seeds are plentiful. The nest is a small, cup-shaped structure lined with spines or other soft material. The nest is so well made that it can hold water; An adult tending the nest should always be present in the nest in a rainstorm in order to keep the nest dry. The young birds, which look like a fuzzy yellow stuffed animal, leave the nest by September, and follow the parents to learn the ways of the goldfinch.

Joe Rogers noticed how, if he walked calmly, a family of American goldfinch would allow him to approach at close range.

“Finding a nest for these little birds is fun,” said Joe, “but the more I looked at a goldfinch’s nest, the more I realized I could never have accomplished the high-quality engineering that went into creating this house.”

In addition to its bright colors, the American goldfinch’s call is among many people’s favorite bird calls. They’ve been known to tweet people walking through forests or fellow birds, sounding like “per-chick-o-ree.”

Entire flocks of goldfinches, also known as wild canaries, will pounce on fields, orchards, and one of their favorite habitats, swamp bushes. Flying on a undulating flight, these mixed flocks often containing other small birds will then settle on their favorite food plants.

As winter approaches, many brightly colored birds migrate to warmer climates. However, American goldfinch stays in Michigan throughout the winter and continues to appear at the feeders.

However, the males will molt to change their coat to a pale olive color with dark wings, thus looking like the female goldfinch. Winter goldfinch can easily be confused with sparrows.

The goldfinch is a symbol of optimism, according to Barb Rogers, and it has many other connections to represent happiness, enthusiasm, energy, and fun.

“As with many birds, it certainly evokes a moment of joy in our lives,” Barb said. “We thank the young campers at Nature Day CNC for choosing such a beautiful bird for their ‘favorite bird’ status.

In Michigan, bird watchers may be able to see up to eight different species of sparrows. The American goldfinch could lead to the introduction of many other sparrows in the future.

The Wildlife Recovery Association is a 501(c)3 charitable organization dedicated to education, rehabilitation and research for the benefit of wildlife and conservation management to protect rare and sensitive species. To donate to help these wonderful animals, visit or write to Wildlife Recovery Association, 531 S. Coleman Road, Shepherd, MI 48883.

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