Key facts

Scientific name: Carduelis carduelis

Status: Resident breeding species

Breeding pairs: 313,000

Wintering birds: 100,000

Conservation status: Green

Length: 12 cm

Wingspan: 21 – 25.5 cm

Weight: 14 – 17 g


Goldfinches have a distinctive red face with a white patch behind the eye and a black crown and nape. They have a yellow wing patch, black tail and a long pointed bill.

Both adult male and female goldfinches look similar but juveniles have a grey-brown spotted plumage and lack the face markings of the adult birds.


Goldfinches will nest in orchards, parks and gardens where there are tall, deciduous trees as well as open woodland and hedgerows.

They construct their cup shaped nests high in trees and bushes using grass, moss and wool and will sometimes decorate the outside of their nests with flowers.

Goldfinches produce 2 broods of 4-6 smooth, glossy, reddish patterned pale blue eggs, which females incubate for 12-13 days.


Goldfinches will eat seeds, insects, dandelions, burdock and thistles and use their slender, tweezer like bills for extracting seeds from plants and flowers.

Niger seed and sunflower hearts will attract them to gardens where they will swing acrobatically on hanging bird feeders.


Where to see them

Goldfinches inhabit most of the UK although they are less common in upland areas and most numerous in southern England.

You can see them anywhere where there are scattered bushes and trees and outside breeding season they will form nomadic flocks often spotted feeding in fields and on road verges.


Dawid Jablonski/xeno-canto

Did you know?

Goldfinches are symbols of fertility and resurrection and frequently appear in medieval Madonna and Child artwork.

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Identification guides

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