American Goldfinch – Carduelis tristis – also known as the Eastern Goldfinch (here in Iowa, anyway), Chardonneret jaune (French), Dominiquito viajero (Spanish), Dominiquito triste (Spanish).
As I’ve mentioned before, the American Goldfinch might be my favorite bird. It is the State Bird of Iowa, it is very common, and I love its little song and/or chirp, which always sounds like he is asking me a question. The above shot is of a young male Amerian Goldfinch. Look here to see a photo of the adult American Goldfinch in his bright yellow and black-capped sumer plumage. American Goldfinches are the only bird in their family that molt twice a year. In the spring the males molt into a bright yellow with a black cap, while the females molt into a bright yellow. In the fall, the males molt into the above. The black cap disappears, the yellow dulls, and the cap, nape, and back take on an olive-brown color. Females look alike, but take on an olive-green color. Thus, American Goldfinches are distinguishable sex-wise throughout the year.
In Iowa, these guys stick around pretty much all year. They seem to be more abundant in the summer, feeding 10 – 20 at a time at a single feeder, but there will be plenty of them this winter, too, as long as I keep a nice stash of nyjer thistle out there (and some unfrozen water in the birdbath).
Female breeding / summer plumage here.
Male breeding / summer here.
Female non-breeding / winter plumage here.