The Goldfinch

The Goldfinch (CARDUELIS CARDUELIS). How does goldfinch look like?

The Goldfinch is one of the most known and beloved small birds. In the natural environment, the Goldfinch prefers field areas and partially forested areas, especially as they most often feed on a variety of tree seeds including alder and birch. They also enjoy thistle and dandelion seeds.

Goldfinches can also be found in orchards, parks, and gardens and in areas inhabited by people.

It is a very sociable bird that often lives in large flocks. Prefers the company of other birds, which is why he lives and breeds in small colonies. The Goldfinch travel, often over long distances, in search of food.

Goldfinch appearance and dimensions.

The Goldfinch has, on average, a length of 12-13 cm, a weight of 14-19 grams and a wingspan of 21-25 cm.

Both the male goldfinch and the female goldfinch have similar plumage, brown on the chest and back, darker (black) in the area of the wings, tail, and neck, respectively white in the area of the cheeks, vent, and abdomen. The wings also have yellow-colored areas.

The male goldfinch has more red on its head extending past the eye and the female goldfinch is smaller than the male and has less red on its head and it only extends to the center of the eye.

Mature Goldfinch male red mask
most beautiful bird
 Mature Goldfinch female red mask

The beak of the male goldfinch is whitish, long and sharp. The female goldfinch has, most of the time, a smaller beak than the male. The goldfinch legs are pinkish, and the eyes are dark brown.

Young Goldfinches

The young goldfinches show a similar coloration to adults, but much less pronounced, and the red “mask” on the head as well as the black crown area are absent which helps them to avoid the attention of predators. The mask and crown will appear after the first moult. They are also known as grey-pates.

Young Goldfinch chick with no colour.
Feeding / Breeding goldfinch

There are a variety of colour mutations on goldfinches, including Isabell, pastel, satin, opal and albino.

In captivity, goldfinches prefer to live in groups, given their sociable nature, both with specimens belonging to their own species and with other birds (such as canaries). When sheltering a large flock of goldfinches is not possible, it is recommended that, in a cage flight or aviary, be kept at least two specimens.

It is essential that the aviaries or cages are large enough not to start a rivalry for territory between male goldfinches. At the same time, it is very important to keep an eye on the behavior of birds, to discover if birds can cohabit or if they show signs of aggression.

A suitable cage for a pair of goldfinches should be about 91cm long, 60 cm high, and 46 cm wide, with a space between the cage bars of about 1 cm.

Last but not least, it should be remembered that the goldfinches love to bath. A bowl of water dedicated to this activity is more than indicated.

The Goldfinch Habitat

In autumn and winter goldfinches are found on open ground where are weeds (especially thistles), rough ground, neglected pastures, roadsides, and wasteland. In the breeding season, they nest in the gardens, orchards and open cultivated land with a sprinkling of trees and tall bushes, returning to open ground to feed.

Feeding goldfinches 

In the natural environment, goldfinches feed mostly on plant seeds, such as thistles, chickweed, groundsel, coltsfoot, teasel, dandelion, birch, alder and pine. At the same time, its diet includes fruits as well as insects. The insects are being used specifically for feeding the chicks.

The Goldfinch travels long distances every day to get their food. During winter they travel in large flocks.

In captivity, the goldfinch needs a varied diet, which is not limited to pellets and mixtures of seeds. As much as possible, it is recommended to include in the diet also thistle seeds, which the bird prefers in the natural environment.

In addition, it is essential that the diet of the goldfinch includes fresh fruits and vegetables changed every day.

Recommended ones include:

  • Vegetables
  • Spinach once a week
  • Cucumber slices 3-4 days a week
  • Green courgette slices 2-3 days a week
  • Lettuce 2 days a week
  • Dandelion 6-7 days a week


  • Apple once a week
  • Pear once a week
  • Lemon. Few drops in drinking water twice a week

Also, all types of sprouted seeds and hard-boiled eggs. Don’t forget about the freshwater, changed daily, that is a must the goldfinch cage flight.


Vit E – during the breeding season, a few drops in the drinking water or powder are mixed into a hard-boiled egg and biscuit, 2-3 times a week.

Vit A – when the youngsters are on their own and the adults are finished feeding their chicks. Drops in the drinking water for 10 consecutive days.

The goldfinch breeding habits

Since they are late nesters, the territory is not taken up until late April. The pair only defends a small territory around the nest and continues to feed with the flock.

The breeding courtship ritual begins in March and often involves fights between goldfinch males or even between males and females. Normally the fights happen while they fly and are accompanied by guttural sounds, signs of aggression

A male goldfinch courting a female goldfinch will approach her, spread his wings alternately, swaying to one side and the other.

These movements allow the yellow spots on the surface of the goldfinch’s wings to be exposed. The female responds by copying the male’s movements. Also, during the courtship ritual, the male tends to feed the female.

Breeding goldfinches
How do goldfinch looks
The goldfinch

The goldfinch nest is often located in tall trees, at a height of between 2 and 10 m. It is usually built from muscles, roots, dried herbs, lichens, wool. The interior is lined with wool, fur and feathers.

Goldfinch nest
Goldfinch breeding habits

The female lays between 4 and 6 blue eggs, sprinkled with spots, the chicks will hatch after about 11-14 days.

Immediately after hatching, the baby goldfinch is covered with grey fluff, lots and long. The little ones are fed by their parents with insects and seeds.

The young goldfinch will fly out of the nest about 13-18 days after hatching but become independent 4 weeks after hatching.

Goldfinches produce 2-3 clutches of chicken per breeding season.

The Goldfinch care

The goldfinch is a resistant bird that is not frequently affected by diseases. However, in captivity, the bird may suffer from poor hygiene of the cage, but also from insufficient space. Poor nutrition can also cause health problems.

Recent posts

7 thoughts on “The Goldfinch (CARDUELIS CARDUELIS). How does goldfinch look like?”

  1. Pingback: How and when to pair goldfinches. – Bird Room Guide

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

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

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

  5. Pingback: Goldfinches Genetic Mutations |Bird Room Guide

  6. Pingback: Breeding European goldfinches in captivity | Bird Room Guide

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

Leave a Comment

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

Scroll to Top