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A photo of a European Goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis), male
European Goldfinch, Male

European Goldfinch

Carduelis carduelis

The European goldfinch, or simply goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis), is a small, vibrant passerine bird belonging to the finch family. This charming avian species is adorned with a striking red face, encircled by black markings near the eyes, and a black-and-white head. The back and flanks exhibit a warm buff or chestnut brown, while the wings are black with a prominent yellow bar. The tail is black, and the rump is a contrasting white. Males and females are similar in appearance, though the male boasts a slightly more extensive red mask.

Identification Tips

Upon closer inspection, one can discern the male goldfinch by its larger, more vivid red mask that extends just beyond the eye. The female's red face does not reach past the eye, and her shoulder feathers are brown, as opposed to the male's black. The bill is ivory-colored, long, and pointed, and the tail is forked. Juveniles can be identified by their plain heads and greyer backs, but the yellow wing stripe is a clear indicator of their species.


The European goldfinch favors open, partially wooded lowlands and is a resident in the milder western parts of its range. In colder regions, it migrates to escape the harsh weather.


Native to Europe, North Africa, and western and central Asia, the European goldfinch has also been introduced to various regions across the globe, including Australia, New Zealand, and Uruguay.


The European goldfinch is known for its sociable nature, often forming flocks in the winter. It is a frequent visitor to bird feeders, particularly in the colder months.

Song & Calls

The goldfinch's song is a delightful, silvery twittering, while its call is a melodic tickeLIT. Its song comprises a tinkling medley of trills and twitters, always including the tri-syllabic call phrase.


The female goldfinch solely constructs the nest, which is often situated several meters above ground, camouflaged by leaves. The nest is made of mosses and lichens, lined with plant down, and secured with spider silk. Eggs are laid at daily intervals, typically resulting in a clutch of 4-6 eggs. Incubation lasts 11-13 days, with the female being fed by the male. Both parents feed the chicks, which fledge 13-18 days after hatching.

Diet and Feeding

Goldfinches have a preference for small seeds, such as those from thistles and teasels, but will also consume insects when feeding young. They are particularly drawn to bird feeders offering niger seed.

Conservation status

The European goldfinch is classified as Least Concern by the IUCN, indicating a stable population.

Similar Species

The European goldfinch can be confused with other finches, but its distinctive red face, black and white head, and yellow wing bar set it apart.

Relationships with humans

The European goldfinch has a long history of being kept and bred in captivity due to its attractive plumage and pleasant song. It has also been featured in various works of art and literature, symbolizing different cultural and religious themes.

European Goldfinch Sounds

Recorded by: © 
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European Goldfinches on Birda


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Acanthis cabaret
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