Female American Goldfinch (Spinus tristis) by Mike Oxley

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Female American Goldfinch (Spinus tristis) by 

Female American Goldfinch Spinus tristis

Cooper Marsh Conservation Area, Lancaster, Ontario, Canada
May 22, 2011

The rains held off and I decided an early trip down east was in order. A quick 30 minutes down the lovely Highway 2 along the banks of the Mighty Saint Lawrence River and I arrived at the Marsh. And there were a surprising amount of cars in the parking lot. 90% had Quebec plates on them. It’s so nice to see that the folks from our neighbouring province enjoy this little conservation area so much!

The birds were in full song, chirping away and simply full of joie de vivre, in spite of the cloudy conditions. Many different types seen, even more heard, but few captured for posterity. This wee lady was quite cooperative, unlike most of the others.

With thanks to

This handsome little finch, the state bird of New Jersey, Iowa, and Washington, is welcome and common at feeders, where it takes primarily sunflower and nyjer. Goldfinches often flock with Pine Siskins and Common Redpolls. Spring males are brilliant yellow and shiny black with a bit of white. Females and all winter birds are more dull but identifiable by their conical bill; pointed, notched tail; wingbars; and lack of streaking. During molts they look bizarrely patchy.


Weedy fields, open floodplains, and other overgrown areas, particularly with sunflower, aster, and thistle plants for food and some shrubs and trees for nesting. Goldfinches are also common in suburbs, parks, and backyards.


Goldfinches eat seeds almost exclusively. Main types include seeds from composite plants (in the family Asteraceae: sunflowers, thistle, asters, etc.), grasses, and trees such as alder, birch, western red cedar, and elm. At feeders prefers nyjer and sunflower.


American Goldfinches are active, acrobatic finches that balance on the seedheads of thistles, dandelions, and other plants to pluck seeds. They have a bouncy flight during which they frequently make their po-ta-to-chip calls. Although males sing exuberantly during spring, pairs do not nest until mid-summer, when thistles and other weeds have gone to seed. Goldfinches do not join other songbirds mobbing predators.

Sony Alpha 700, Sigma 170 to 500 at 500 mm
iso 400, spot metered, F9.0, 1/640 second


goldfinch, birds, spring, yellow, gold, ontario, feetyur

In love with Ma Nature! Always have been, always will be. Let’s keep her safe, eh?

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  • DonDavisUK
    DonDavisUKabout 3 years ago

    A terrific capture Mike. Great colours a stunning wee birdie.

  • Many, many thanks, Don! Greatly appreciate your lovely comment!

    – Mike Oxley

  • hjaynefoster
    hjaynefosterabout 3 years ago

    Super capture Mike.

  • Thanks so very much, Jayne!

    – Mike Oxley

  • Sprezzatura
    Sprezzaturaabout 3 years ago

    Was this ‘stealth or wee bugger’ mode:) Whatever mode, it is a little beauty. Great one, Mike. Cat

  • “Wee bugger” mode. :o) She suddenly appeared in the tree in front of me. A brief, panicky fiddle with the tripod, with much muttered profanity, too. Thanks so very much, Cat!

    – Mike Oxley

  • Dorothy Thomson
    Dorothy Thomsonabout 3 years ago

    Wonderful shot Sir!

  • Many thanks, Ma’am! :o)

    – Mike Oxley

  • Colin Metcalf
    Colin Metcalfabout 3 years ago

    Superb capture Mike!

  • Greatly appreciated, Colin! Thanks so very much!

    – Mike Oxley

  • Shulie1
    Shulie1about 3 years ago

    Great shot, Mike

  • Greatly appreciated, Shulie! Thank you!

    – Mike Oxley

  • Brenda Dow
    Brenda Dowabout 3 years ago

    Lovely lady
    perched to preen
    the prettiest lady
    that I’ve ever seen
    A song in her throat
    love in her heart
    it’s spring
    Til winter do we part……….

    Now you have a collection of lovely wee birdies, Mike……
    I do believe they like you as they sit so still while you watch!!!!
    Lovely to view!!!!

  • What a beautiful verse, Brenda! Thanks so very much. May I add this to my description? And thanks, too, for the lovely comments. I’m getting the hang of this birdie shooting thing, I think!

    – Mike Oxley

  • stickelsimages
    stickelsimagesabout 3 years ago

    What a nice wee birdie/bugger..
    Brenda did a nice job too Mike….
    Cheers Lee

  • Cheers, Lee! Many thanks, eh? Isn’t that a lovely verse by Brenda? She certainly has a magical way with words!

    – Mike Oxley

  • Robert H Carney
    Robert H Carneyabout 3 years ago

    A real beauty!

  • Greatly appreciated, Robert. Many thanks for your very kind words!

    – Mike Oxley

  • shallay
    shallayabout 3 years ago

    Fantastic !

  • Thank you, Shallay!

    – Mike Oxley

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