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Goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis) | by Brian Carruthers-Dublin-Eire
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Goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis)

Thistle Finch, Gold Linnet, Gold Spink, Foolscoat


[order] Passeriformes | [family] Fringillidae | [latin] Carduelis carduelis | [UK] Goldfinch | [FR] Chardonneret élégant | [DE] Stieglitz | [ES] Jilguero Europeo | [IT] Cardellino eurasiatico | [NL] Putter


spanwidth min.: 22 cm

spanwidth max.: 25 cm

size min.: 13 cm

size max.: 15 cm


incubation min.: 11 days

incubation max.: 14 days

fledging min.: 13 days

fledging max.: 18 days

broods 2

eggs min.: 3

eggs max.: 6


One of Ireland's top-20 most widespread garden birds.


Status: Resident. Some additional birds may arrive from Continent in winter.


Conservation Concern: Green-listed in Ireland. The European population has been evaluated as Secure.


Identification: Smaller than a Chaffinch, this brightly-coloured finch has become a familiar sight at garden nut feeders in recent years. Striking black and yellow wings usually catch the eye first, but the scarlet red "face" and black and white head markings are equally striking, set off against a rather plain brown back and whitish underside. The tail is black with white spots and the rump white. Very active, has a bounding flight and can occur in large flocks.


Similar Species: Greenfinch, Chaffinch


Call: Song a liquidy, rather quiet string of twitters, not unlike a Swallow. Anxiety note a questioning "queue", rising towards end.


Diet: Mostly seeds - especially fine seeds of grasses and thistles. Will readily use peanut feeders.


Breeding: Breeds throughout Ireland - in hedgerows, orchards, parks and gardens. Delicate nest of moss, hairs and feathers in fork, quite high in hedge or tree.


Wintering: Widespread.


Where to See: Common and widespread in Ireland.



Physical characteristics


Small, delicate, beautifully marked finch, with noticeably pointed bill and light dancing flight. At all ages, displays diagnostic shining, golden-yellow panel along center of black wing. Adult has unique head pattern of seemingly vertical bands of red-white-black and has tawny-brown back contrasting with wings, bold whitish rump, and black tail. Voice distinctive. Sexes closely similar, little seasonal variation.




Breeds over west Palearctic north to isotherms of 17'C in boreal, temperate, Mediterranean, and steppe zones, both Atlantic and continental. Predominantly in lowlands, but in Switzerland breeds generally up to 1000 m, and occurs in late summer and autumn up to 2400 m, resorting to alpine meadows and areas near chalets. In breeding season, shows preference for orchards, parks, gardens, avenues, and tree nurseries, often in or near human settlements, and especially where patches of tall weeds and other concentrated food sources are present. Also favours streamside of fen woodlands, open or fringe woodlands and heath lands, and commons with well-grown hawthorn, gorse, and other scrub or thicket species.


Other details


Carduelis carduelis is a widespread resident across most of Europe, which accounts for less than half of its global range. Its European breeding population is extremely large (>12,000,000 pairs), and was stable between 1970-1990. Although there were declines in a few countries-notably Turkey-during 1990-2000, populations were stable or increased across the vast majority of Europe, and the species underwent a slight increase overall.

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Taken on September 24, 2017