About us: We own the Wild Birds Unlimited nature shop in East Lansing, Michigan,
a store that provides a wide variety of supplies to help you enjoy the birdwatching hobby.

This blog was created to answer frequently asked questions & to share nature stories and photographs.
To contribute, email me at bloubird@gmail.com.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Goldfinches: The Last Birds Nesting

While most birds have finished nesting and some are flying south, the goldfinches are just starting to nest.

American Goldfinch Carduelis tristis, Fort Eri...Goldfinches nest in late summer and early fall. Depending on where you live, they nest at the end of July to September in the fork of a deciduous shrub or tree. They prefer hawthorn, serviceberry or sapling maples. 

Goldfinches delay the start of their nesting behavior until the thistles and other flower come into bloom so they can anticipate an abundant and reliable supply of seeds for their young. The female builds a compact cup nest of fibers, grass and spider silk and lines it with plant down and hair. So keep your WBU finch feeder filled with fresh Nyjer® (thistle) seed to welcome the American Goldfinch to your backyard refuge. 

It's a joy to see a flock of goldfinches raining down to the feeder or dancing in the flowers in search of seeds. And the happiest sound in the late summer is the call of baby goldfinch!

American Goldfinch Carduelis tristisOrder: PASSERIFORMES Family: Finches (Fringillidae)
The male goldfinch is a small, bright yellow finch with a black cap, wings, and tail, and white rump and undertail coverts. Females are duller with olive back and lacks black cap. Winter males will turn olive-brown with yellow shoulder bars, white wing bars, dark bill, and may show black on forehead and yellow on throat and face. Winter females are duller with buff wings and shoulder bars, and lack yellow and black on face and head. Juveniles resemble winter females but have a yellow wash on throat and breast.
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The American Goldfinch is a bird of many aliases: wild canary, yellowbird, lettuce bird, and thistle bird, just to name a few. Ask a gardening enthusiast and you might hear the name “lettuce bird” due to the bird’s practice of nibbling at the tender young leaves of this vegetable. The American goldfinch looks similar to a canary at a pet store and so sometimes is called "wild canary" or "yellowbird".
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Another descriptive name, is “thistle bird.” It has long been known that thistle plants and goldfinch are almost inseparable, and even its genus name, Caruelis, is from the Latin word carduus, meaning “thistle.” Goldfinches rely heavily on thistle plants as a source of food and for nest-building materials. A research study in Michigan observed Goldfinches always liked to nest near an abundant supply of thistle seed. If you want goldfinch to nest in your yard you can offer cotton nesting material too.