Goldfinch, a small songbird. The American goldfinch, about five inches (13 cm) long, is often called “wild canary” because of its color and song. The female is olive-yellow. The male is similarly colored in winter; in summer, it is yellow with black crown, wings, and tail. The birds travel in flocks, feeding chiefly on weed seeds. The goldfinch is the state bird of Iowa, New Jersey, and Washington.

Are All Goldfinches Gold?

Like many other songbirds, goldfinches are named for their color. The American goldfinch is found in most parts of North America.

The male goldfinch has gold and bright yellow feathers over most of its body. The female, however, is olive-brown on top and yellowish on the bottom. In winter, the male's feathers change color, so the male looks like the female until spring.

Sometimes, the American goldfinch is called the “wild canary” by mistake. That's because of its yellow color and soft, lovely song. The bird sings as it flies up and down, making loops like a roller coaster. When it dips, it sings “Per-chik-ree” and “Po-ta-to-chip”

The European goldfinch, about 5 1/2 inches (14 cm) long, has a bright-red head, black tail, and yellow-banded black wings.

The American goldfinch is Spinus tristis; European, C. carduelis. Goldfinches belong to the family Fringillidae.