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Goldfinches live throughout the United States and southern Canada, a fact that makes attracting them to your backyard a bit easier.
• There are three species of goldfinches found in North America, including the American, Lesser and Lawrence's.
• Though goldfinches are sometimes referred to as wild canaries, they are actually in the finch family as their name suggests.
• The genus name, Caruelis, is from the Latin word carduus, which means "thistle." Goldfinches are very dependent on thistles for food and even use thistledown to line their nests.
• Northern populations of the American Goldfinch are mostly migratory and southern populations are mostly residential.
• Female American Goldfinches will stay further south during the winter than males, and younger males will winter further north than adult males.
• American Goldfinches rarely over-winter in northern areas where temperatures fall below 0°F for extended periods.
• Residential flocks of American Goldfinches roam widely between food supplies during the winter and have been recorded moving over 4 miles between multiple feeding stations in a single day. Other records show movements of more than 30 miles in a single winter.
• Female American Goldfinches are dominant over males in the summer and appear to be subservient to them in the winter. See if you call tell a difference at your feeders.
• To stay warm on a cold winter's night, American Goldfinches have been known to burrow under the snow to form a cozy sleeping cavity. They will also roost together in coniferous trees.
• Unlike many birds, goldfinches molt their body feathers twice a year, in the spring before breeding and after nesting in the fall.
• During their fall feather molting, American Goldfinches grow a new set of feathers that are much denser than their summer plumage. These soft feathers provide an additional layer of insulation to help keep them warm throughout the winter.
• The color of the legs, feet and bill of the American Goldfinch change with each feather molt. For fall and winter, their legs, feet and bill are dark grayish brown. For spring and summer, they change to a buffy yellow orange color.
• American Goldfinches are common feeder visitors and prefer Nyjer® (thistle) and sunflower seeds.