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Eurasian or European Goldfinch

About Eurasian or European Goldfinch

Small, lightweight finch with a sharp, pinkish-white bill. Tawny-brown upperparts, black wings with broad golden-yellow bars and white tips to primaries; black tails with white tip. Black crown and nape; broad white band behind each eye; bright crimson forehead, face and upper chin; white rump and underparts; pale legs.

The female has less red on her face than the male. She also has a slightly shorter bill, and this makes her less able to extract seeds from prickly teasel seedheads.

The Eurasian, or European Goldfinch breeds from spring to summer. The female builds the nest in a cup shape of mosses, grasses, lichens and roots lined with plant down and wool. She has 4-6 pale blue eggs, that are spotted and speckled, streaked and blotched with purple, purplish-black, pink or red at the larger end. The female takes care of the eggs, and both parents take care of the chicks.

This bird can crack heavy cherry stones with its very powerful bill. This is a slender and agile bird with a sharp-pointed bill that it uses like a precision instrument. It plucks soft, juicy, half-ripe seeds from the seedheads of thistles, burdocks, and similar tall composite “weeds,” using its acrobatic skills to perch on the swaying stems as it feeds. It is the only bird that can reach the seed of the teasels, which are protected by bristling spines; this is a valuable food source in the winter when most of the other food is gone. The main threat to their survival is the use of weedkillers on farmland, since this destroys the thistles and other seed-producing plants that the Goldfinches rely on.