American GoldFinch

Spinus tristis

The American Goldfinch prefers open meadow areas. Their range includes most of continental USA and southern Canada. They spend winters throughout much of the Pacific Coast, the southern Rocky Mountain states and the Gulf Coast from Mexico though Texas and to Florida. Their diet is strictly vegetarian. When cowbirds parasitize (i.e. lay their eggs in) this bird’s nest, their babies cannot survive on the seeds brought by the parents to feed the young birds. The American Goldfinch can live as long as ten years.

When first described by western science in 1758 by Carl Linnaeus, he placed it in the genus Spinus, where it remained unto 1976. Then someone thought they should move it to the genus Carduelis, but recent studies have shown that was a mistake. Today it has shifted back to its original genus.

Science recognises four subspecies of American Goldfinch. S. t. tristis is the most wide-ranging and mostly lives east of the Rocky Mountains. S. t. pallidus lives mostly in the Rocky Mountain zone. S. t. jewetti lives along the western slopes of the Cascade Mountains from British Columbia to Central California. S. t. salicamans lives west of the Sierra Nevada Mountains from Central California into Baja California (Mexico).

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