its bright golden body and melodious singing, the American
Goldfinch (Carduélis trístis), is easily mistaken for a canary.
Indeed, this bright and cheerful specimen is sometimes called
the “wild canary.”
Found throughout Oklahoma, the Goldfinch is a much more common resident during winter than in summer. It inhabits woodlots, weedy fields, brushy thickets and seed-bearing trees, while preferring a home located near a water source.
Giving the American Goldfinch its canary-like appearance is the bright yellow plumage of the male. In summer, the male’s golden body is accented by velvety black wings and tail, while the black “cap” further distinguishes it from the female. The females and immature males are brownish in color with olive overtones, lacking the black cap. Winter will find the males and females nearly identical in appearance; the males discernible only by their darker wings and yellow shoulder patches.
The American Goldfinch’s song is a long, high and sweet “per-chic-o-ree” melody which is readily performed while congregating in treetops with other members of its own species, or while gliding through the air in its characteristic roller coaster, up-and-down trajectory. Looking much like a flock of canaries, a congregation of American Goldfinches is a golden and mobile choir producing a melody of various notes. It is not until summer that the Goldfinch will disperse and pair-up to nest.
The preferred foods of the Goldfinch are dandelion, thistle, sunflower, and elm seed. Hence, this bird is not difficult to attract to feeders. With its love for thistle seed, an offering of such may be placed in a garden or backyard feeder and this will serve as a magnet for these birds. Because the Goldfinch will supplement its summer diet with various insects, it is a beneficial little bird. With its brilliant golden color and seemingly endless array of cheerful notes, the American Goldfinch offers a beam of sunshine on even the gloomiest winter day.