American Goldfinch

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      Summer-only range
      Year-round range
      Winter-only range

  • Astragalinus tristis[2]
  • Carduelis tristis

The American Goldfinch (Spinus tristis), also known as the Eastern Goldfinch and Wild Canary, is a North American bird in the finch family. It is migratory, ranging from southern Canada to North Carolina during the breeding season, and from just south of the Canadian border to Mexico during the winter.

The only finch in its subfamily which undergoes a complete molt, the American Goldfinch displays sexual dimorphism in its coloration; the male is a vibrant yellow in the summer and an olive color during the winter months, while the female is a dull yellow-brown shade which brightens only slightly during the summer. The male displays brightly colored plumage during the breeding season to attract a mate.

The American Goldfinch is a granivore and adapted for the consumption of seedheads, with a conical beak to remove the seeds and agile feet to grip the stems of seedheads while feeding. It is a social bird, and will gather in large flocks while feeding and migrating. It may behave territorially during nest construction, but this aggression is short-lived. Its breeding season is tied to the peak of food supply, beginning in late July, which is relatively late in the year for a finch. This species is generally monogamous, and produces one brood each year.

Human activity has generally benefited the American Goldfinch. It is often found in residential areas, attracted to bird feeders installed by humans, which increases its survival rate in these areas. Deforestation by humans also creates open meadow areas which are the preferred habitat of the American Goldfinch.

Contents

Taxonomy

The American Goldfinch was one of the many species originally described by Linnaeus in his eighteenth century work, Systema Naturae.[3] It was initially included in the genus Spinus, a group containing New World goldfinches and siskins, but in 1976, Spinus was merged into the genus Carduelis as a subgenus.[4] Its closest relatives are the Lesser Goldfinch (C. psaltria), Lawrence's Goldfinch (C. lawrencei), and the siskins. Though it shares a name with the European Goldfinch, the two are in separate subgenera and are not directly related.[5] Carduelis is derived from carduus, the Latin word for thistle; the species name tristis is Latin for 'sorrowful'.[6] There are four recognized subspecies of the American Goldfinch:[7]

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