Introducing Kids to the American Goldfinch

Many of us bird lovers want nothing more than to share our hobby with those around us. Teaching kids (or grandkids) about birds not only increases their love and appreciation for nature, but it also instills in them an understanding of how important it is to maintain habitats that allow birds to grow and thrive in the future. For those of you who are searching for a good way to introduce kids to backyard birding, look no further than the American Goldfinch. Because they’re fairly common in most areas of the US, you are likely to find them at your feeder, feeding away happily or bringing seeds to their young. Below are some interesting facts about the American Goldfinch that your kids and grandkids may enjoy:

American Goldfinches are easy to recognize. This species of finch is known for its small body, short bill, small head, long wings and a notched tail. During the summer, the male’s plumage is bright yellow with a black forehead, black and white wings and white patches below and above the tail. Females are a paler shade of yellow with olive above. There are few sights that are more enjoyable than watching the undulating flight of a singing American Goldfinch above a green meadow. Show your child/grandchild photos of this species and teach them how to recognize them in nature.

They look for open spaces, such as fields, farms, suburban backyards and gardens. Because they prefer seeds to insects, American Goldfinches tend to look for food in backyards, which makes them the perfect candidates for your feeder. Fill your feeder with Nyjer or thistle seeds, and watch them gather to feed, mostly in noisy groups. Because they’re fairly acrobatic by nature, American Goldfinches are fun to watch as they often feed upside down in order to reach seeds that are tough to get. If you’re looking for a feeder that attracts American Goldfinches, check out our Thistle Feeder here. It holds almost 3 lbs. of thistle or Nyjer seeds and has eight body perches as well as a wrap-around bottom perch. We use this feeder in our backyard and we can promise you that it works!

American Goldfinches share parenting responsibility equally. Another interesting fact about this bird is that both mama and papa Goldfinch take care of the babies. Here’s how it works. Once the female lays her eggs, the male will bring her food while she incubates (usually 12 – 14 days). Once the eggs hatch, the male brings the food and the female feeds it to the young. Once the nestlings get a bit older, both parents feed them equally, with the male providing food in later stages as the female may look for another mate in order to have a second brood that season. Good job daddy Goldfinch!

We hope these tips help you introduce your kids or grandkids to backyard birding. July and September are typical breeding months for the American Goldfinch, so this is the perfect time to watch for them at your feeder. Good luck and happy birding!

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