Lesser Goldfinch

Carduelis psaltria

The Lesser Goldfinch is a small, seed-eating finch of the Southwest. It comes in two forms: a dark-backed one in Texas, and a greenish-backed one farther westward.

Interesting Information

Male Lesser Goldfinches in the most eastern part of their range in the United States tend to have black backs and napes. Those found to the westward have green backs and only a black cap. The amount of black varies throughout the range, with many birds having partly-green backs. The amount of black shown by males can vary within a given locality too. South of central Mexico, all of the males are black-backed.


Adult Description

  • Small bird.

  • Bill small, pointed, conical, and dark.

  • Body bright yellow to dull brown.

  • Wings dark with large white wingbars and patches of white.

  • Large white patch in wing visible in flight.

  • Tail short and notched.

  • Breeding male bright yellow with black cap and wings, some with black backs.

  • Length Range: 11 cm (4.5 in)

  • Weight: 9 g (0.3 oz)

  • Size: Very Small (3 - 5 in)

Sex Differences

Male bright yellow and black, female duller and without black.


Juvenile similar to adult female, except more buffy.


Photo taken from: The Sibley Field Guide by David Allen Sibley

© 2003 Cornell Lab of Ornithology


Preferred habitats include oak savannas, woodlands, and suburban gardens.


Diet consists mostly of seeds.



Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
     Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Fringillidae
    Subfamily: Carduelinae
Genus: Carduelis
Species: Carduelis psaltria
    Subspecies: Carduelis psaltria colombiana
  Carduelis psaltria hesperophila
  Carduelis psaltria jouyi
  Carduelis psaltria psaltria
  Carduelis psaltria witti

Similar Species

Female and juvenile American Goldfinches have browner upperparts, pale bills, and lack white wing patches.

Bird Sound

Song a long combination of variable notes and phrases, repeated in rambling, intricate melody. Call a high, clear "tee-yee."

Eggs look like this

Photo taken from: ARCTOS Collaborative Collection Management Solution