Pair of goldfinches

Breeding European goldfinches in captivity.

Breeding European goldfinches in captivity take a lot of patience, dedication and a specific diet. Keeping the birds just on a seed diet might not work very well. Vitamins, Fruits, vegetables and specific environmental conditions are as important as cage or aviary size and cleanness.

Apart from the above factors, there are few more signs that will indicate that the European goldfinches are ready to breed. In this article, I will descry the European goldfinch courtship behavior, when to introduce nests, what nesting material is the best, and more.

Recent Posts

European Goldfinch Courtship behavior

The first sign that tells me that my birds are ready to build the nest is paper shredding. The bottom of my cages is always covered with paper. This the way I been advised by experienced breeders when I got my first pair of goldfinches and it works well since. So, most of the birds that I keep start shredding the paper at the bottom of the cage and carry it in the food bowl. This tells me that it is time to introduce the nest sites.

European goldfinch song

As the day gets longer and the weather gets warmer the goldfinch male starts singing more and more. The song starts from short and weak notes and by the end of April, the song turns in long and loud trills. The European goldfinch hen will start making a few sounds too but nothing like the male.

The goldfinch male is choosing a spot near the nesting place and sings his heart out to attract the female. Also to warn other goldfinch males about his nesting territory.

How male goldfinch sound like

How female goldfinch sounds like

European goldfinch swaying

Goldfinch male starts swaying from side to side while singing his mating song. At the same time, they will show the bright yellow by dropping and flapping their wings. The male will normally sit in a higher place than the female. He will perform his breeding ritual in such a way as to attract the female beside him.

The female goldfinch responds (to the male’s courtship) by swaying from side to side too and singing her part of the song. As mentioned before, the female’s song on most occasions is very weak and short.

European Goldfinch beak

The beak is most of the time black towards the end for both males and females. As the breeding time is getting closer, the black will slowly disappear and the beak will turn fully white. The breeding season is also the time of the year when all the cage birds can be sexed by blowing the vent.

Breeding European Goldfinches in captivity.
Black Beak
Breeding European Goldfinches in captivity.
Black Beak turning white
Breeding European Goldfinches in captivity.
White beak

European Goldfinch feeding each other

Breeding European Goldfinches in captivity.
goldfinch song
goldfinch swaying
European Goldfinch courtship behaviour

The male goldfinch feeds the hen goldfinch more often as they get closer to breeding months. If possible, separate the male from the female for few days and feed him a different diet than the hen.

While separated, the male will sing more and more to attract the female. When rejoined, the male will feed the hen again. Because he was given a different diet, the hen will show more interest.

If the birds can’t be separated with a divider and only removed then always remove the male from the main cage. This will give the hen more authority in the cage. When the male is introduced back will not chase the hen too much. This way will also reduce stress.

If a divider can be used then for the first day or two of separation don’t let them see each other and only hear the song. Swap the solid divider with a mesh divider. Now they see and feed through the mesh. When you can see signs that the hen starts building the nest and is ready for the male then remove the mesh divider.

This process can be repeated if necessary. 

Introducing nests and nesting material

European goldfinches will build their nest in any type of nest pan once they have an open top. They will love natural-looking nest baskets like straw or wicker baskets. Box-type nests will not be used by goldfinches.

First, give your birds a little bit of nesting material and see how they react. If the hen picks up any of it then this could be a sign that the nest can be introduced. Place the nest pans with some green camouflage around them. If the natural or fake greenery been placed a while ago (as mentioned in my earlier posts for refuge) then position the nests between those branches.

Use plastic nests, exterior nests, natural nests, wire baskets with or without nesting felt.

Nests positions

Give them at least two nests per cage place in opposite corners of the cage. This will allow the hen to choose the nest that she likes the most or where she feels most secure. She will check both nest sites well before starting building. When you introduce the nesting material she will build on the one that suits her the most. Nests should be placed in high places of the cage leaving around 15 cm from the top of the nest to the cage ceiling. This will give enough space for the bird to land on the nest and feed the chicks.

Note that the minimum is two nest sites, you can always provide more than that in different places and at different heights covered with greenery. Greenery must not be too thick for goldfinches as they like to see outside the nesting area between the branches.

The nesting material can be picked from fields, bought from shops, or bought online.

In the wild goldfinches are building their nest with, feathers, twigs, lichens, dry moss, spider web, wool, dog hair, etc.

In captivity, they are using coconut fiber, jute, cotton pieces, cotton wool, etc.

Description of goldfinch nest

In their natural habitat, the European goldfinch builds a small nest with dry grass, moss and thin roots with a cup-shaped interior lined with various feathers.

In captivity, the nest is not as well built as in the wild but it will look more or less the same.

The nest could tell the breeder if the hen will be a good mother or not. If the nest pan and nesting material are introduced in the cage, then the hen will start building. The nest itself could be very we built or not so well. The structure of the nest in most cases indicated how experienced the hen is and also how good the hen will be looking after the chicks.

Goldfinch nest
unexperienced female
goldfinch nest
experienced female

9 thoughts on “Breeding European goldfinches in captivity.”

  1. Pingback: Breeding goldfinches indoors/Lighting, Temperature, Humidity

  2. Pingback: European Goldfinch Cage and Aviary | Bird Room Guide

  3. Pingback: The Goldfinch (CARDUELIS CARDUELIS) | Goldfinch Care

  4. Pingback: European Goldfinch’s breeding diet | Bird Room Guide

  5. Pingback: Breeding goldfinches – laying eggs | Bird Room Guide

  6. Pingback: Hatchlings – Feeding hatchlings| Bird Room Guide

  7. Pingback: Breeding and Showing Goldfinches | Bird Room Guide

  8. Pingback: Keeping Siskins and Exhibiting siskins | Bird Room Guide

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top