The American goldfinch (Spinus tristis) is always a welcome sight at the birdfeeder

The American goldfinch (Spinus tristis) is always a welcome sight at the birdfeeder

The American goldfinch (Spinus tristis) is always a welcome sight at the birdfeeder. Both of the goldfinches pictured here are males, as they have vibrant yellow feathers and a black cap; the females are a duller yellowish-brown color and lack the black cap.

American goldfinches are migratory birds, and during their breeding season, they can be found from North Carolina all the way up to Canada. During the winter, the birds at the northernmost part of the range will migrate south of the U.S./Canadian border and can be found as far south as Mexico. Because of this overlap in range, some of the more southerly populations of goldfinches don't migrate at all but are year-round residents.

The American goldfinch is the only bird within its genus to undergo two molts within the year, once in spring and once in autumn. This is why goldfinches spotted in the spring and summer have vivid coloration and the goldfinches spotted outside of breeding season are much duller in color.

While goldfinches will eat insects on occasion, they're generally pretty strict vegetarians (we all slip up from time to time, I suppose). If you'd like to attract goldfinches to your bird feeder, try Niger seed; it's their favorite! #BenInNature

About this post: Social distancing can be difficult, but the next few weeks present a great opportunity to become reacquainted with nature. While he is working from home, Administrator of Science Ben Williams is venturing outdoors each day to record a snapshot of the unique sights that can be found in the natural world.

This post brought to you by VMNH Corporate Supporter Everything Outdoors, LLC.

If you discover something in nature that you would like help identifying, be sure to message us right here on Facebook with a picture (please include location and date of picture) and we'll have our experts help you identify it!

map of Virginia and surrounding areas

Please Visit Us Soon


Tuesday - Saturday: 10am - 4pm
Sunday - Monday: Closed


$10 for ages 18-59
$5 for ages 3-17, seniors 60+, and college students
FREE for children under 3, museum members, and members of ASTC participating institutions

My 4 year old son loves going to the museum. The exhibits are educational, interactive and kid-friendly.

Beth Deathrage

Hear More  arrow