4 1/2-5 1/2" (11-14 cm). Yellowy-gold with black forehead, wings, and tail. Wings have two narrow white bars; tail has white edges. Females and immatures duller and no black on head.
Similar Species- Female Lawrence's Goldfinch, immature Indigo Bunting, Lesser Goldfinch.
A prolonged jumble of short trills and thin twittering notes.
Breeds across southern Canada, south to southwestern California, northern Baja California, eastern Oregon, central Nevada, extreme northeastern Texas, central Georgia, and South Carolina. Winters from southern Canada and northern U.S., south to northern Mexico, Gulf Coast, and southern Florida.
Found in weedy fields, cultivated lands, open deciduous and riparian woodlands, forest edges, second growth, shrubbery, orchards, and farmlands. Results of an Idaho study conducted in cottonwood forests indicated a preference for agricultural landscapes over more natural landscapes.
Feeds on seeds (e.g., birch, alder, conifer, thistle, and goldenrod). will also eat some berries and insects. Young eat partly-digested, regurgitated seeds.
Builds cup-shaped nest in shrub or tree, often near water. Takes food from foliage, or forages on ground. Usually travels and forages in flocks, except during breeding season.
Female incubates 4-6 eggs (usually 5), for 12-14 days. Young are tended by both adults, and leave nest 10-16 days after hatching.
Saab, V.A. 1996. Influences of spatial scale and land-use practices on habitat relationships of breeding birds in cottonwood riparian forests. Ph.D. Dissertation, Univ. Colorado, Boulder. 140pp.