European Goldfinch

Carduelis carduelis


  • Order : Passeriformes
  • Family : Fringillidae
  • Genus : Carduelis
  • Species : carduelis

binomial name

  • Linnaeus, 1758


  • Size : 14 cm
  • Wingspan : –
  • Weight : 14 to 18 g


8 years



XC : Manuel Grosselet

Typical shouts are “tsi du dut”, “ti pi dit”, a rising “tchuii”, etc. During altercations, a rather discordant whispered cry is emitted in rapid series.
The song is a rather melodious phrase, which has the tonality of the cries that it includes regularly, with rolled notes, accelerations, all very characteristic of the species.

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IUCN Conservation status



The Goldfinch is a small passerine, smaller than a sparrow and easy to recognize. Indeed, the adult has a blood-red face and a large yellow-lemon area on the wing. There is a slight sexual dimorphism which, if one can say, is not obvious. The male has the red of the face which overflows the eye towards the back whereas in the female, the red stops at the level of the eye. The rest of the head is black and white. The dark eye is included in a black loral zone. The beak, regularly conical, is pale pink. The upper part of the body (mantle, back and scapulars) is camel-brown, except for the rump and supra-caudals which are white, which can be seen in the bird in flight. The brown of the top reaches the sides of the breast where it forms two pectoral spots well visible, and the flanks, while the rest of the bottom is white. Wings and tails are black with white spots on the remiges and rectrices. The wide yellow band that cuts the wing in two lengthwise is very visible on the bird in flight. The legs are pink or pinkish depending on the season.
The juvenile can be recognized as a goldfinch by the yellow band on the wing and can be easily distinguished from the adult by the absence of red on the face. In addition, the head and the underside of its body are whitish beige and finely streaked with brown.
The birds of the eastern subspecies, caniceps or subulata, have the head and the top of the body of a rather pale brown-grey.


The Goldfinch is a fairly common bird of open woodlands, whether deciduous or mixed, and can be found in forest edges, clearings and regenerated forests, in wooded steppe, in riparian forests along rivers and lakes, in Mediterranean scrubland and scrubland, in hedgerows, along roadsides, and in human settlements in parks, orchards and wooded gardens. The nesting territory must meet two requirements. It must include high shrubs or trees for the nest and a dense herbaceous layer rich in various seeds for feeding. In this respect, wastelands and other uncultivated areas play an essential role.

THREATS – protection

The Goldfinch is still a common species, not threatened on a continental scale. However, it is certain that the deterioration and the banalization of the country landscapes, the disappearance of many uncultivated zones to the profit of urbanization or of a productive agriculture, could only have a negative effect on the populations of goldfinches in our developed countries. It was once a cage bird and captured for this purpose.
Currently, the species is protected and trapping is illegal. But it is certain that poaching continues in many Mediterranean countries, including European, despite the protection laws. Just think of what happens in Cyprus or Malta every year.

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