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Lesser Goldfinch

Carduelis psaltria

Length: 4.5 inches Wingspan: 8 inches Seasonality: Rare Visitor
ID Keys: Small size, dark backs with yellow underparts, black cap, white patches in wings and tail

Lesser Goldfinch - Carduelis psaltriaThe Lesser Goldfinch is a small finch of the western U.S.  Birds in the eastern part of their range tend to have dark olive-green backs, while those further west have black backs.  The complicated musical warbling of the male often includes snippets of songs from other bird species.

Habitat: Found in a variety of semi-open habitats with brush or trees adjacent to open grassy or weedy areas.

Diet: Seeds make up the majority of the diet in all seasons.  Also will feed on small insects.

Behavior: Gregarious except when nesting, usually foraging in small flocks, sometimes mixed with other species.  Will forage at any level of the vegetation and on the ground.

Breeding: No confirmed nesting has occurred in South Dakota, but the "Birds of South Dakota" (SDOU -- 2001) notes they have been regularly found during the summer months in Hot Brook Canyon near Hot Springs.

Song: Fast musical warbling.

Migration: A permanent resident throughout much of its range.  However, birds in more inland locations do tend to move southward or towards the West Coast for the winter.

Interactive eBird Map: Click here to access an interactive eBird map of Lesser Goldfinch sightings

Similar Species: American Goldfinch, Lawrence's Goldfinch

Conservation Status: Numbers generally stable throughout their normal range.

Bird Feeders: Will come to feeders for niger ("thistle") seed and sunflower seeds.

Further Information: 1) USGS Patuxent Bird Identification InfoCenter, Lesser Goldfinch

2) Cornell University's "All About Birds - Lesser Goldfinch"

3) Lesser Goldfinch

Photo Information: September 11th, 2006 -- In Tucson, Arizona -- Terry Sohl

Additional Photos: Click on the image chips or text links below for additional, higher-resolution Lesser Goldfinch photos.


Click on the map below for a higher-resolution view
Lesser Goldfinch - Species Range Map
South Dakota Status: Rare and local migrant and summer visitor in the southwestern corner of the state.

Additional Lesser Goldfinch Photos
Click for a higher-resolution version of these photos
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