Lesser Goldfinch

Spinus psaltria
Range Map

The Lesser Goldfinch ranges from the southwestern United States (near the coast, as far north as extreme southwestern Washington) to Venezuela and Peru. It migrates from the colder parts of its range in the USA. These are the smallest true finches on earth.

Science recognises the five following subspecies:

  • S. p. Hesperophilus sometimes called the Green-Backed Goldfinch, lives in western USA and northwestern Mexico
  • S. p. witti Iives on islands off western Mexico
  • S. p. Psaltria or the Arkansas Black-Backed Goldfinch lives in western-central USA and south to central Mexico
  • S. p. Jouyi lives in southeast Mexico and northwest Belize
  • S. p. Colombianus lives in southern Mexico, Central America and northern South America

Of all the birds in my Poway yard in southern California, these birds are the most common, and are resident year round. Give a careful listen to their songs, and you might recognise snippets stolen from other bird species, only sped up from the original version. My yard has been the most convenient location to meet these sweetest of birds. Yet I’ve enjoyed finding Lesser Goldfinches elsewhere in California, Oregon, Arizona, New Mexico, and in Langtry (Texas). Most folks visiting Langtry focus on the Roy Bean historical aspect, and while I too enjoyed this facet, it was birds, such as this smallest member of the finch clan in the Cactus Garden that drew me to this place.

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