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A distinctive small finch with gold flashes in the wings and a red face

Photograph by: 
Peter Orchard

Back in the 1970's a goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis) in your garden would  have been quite an unusual sight. Gradually, however, possibly as our way of feeding birds has changed, the goldfinch has become a regular visitor to many gardens and it has reached number 11 in the RSPB Garden Birdwarch top twenty. Initially they started coming to gardens later in the winter after food supplies in the countryside were exhausted and a British Trust for Ornithology study showed that numbers of goldfinches in gardens built up from mid-February onwards. That now seems to have changed and they can turn up at almost any time.

Definitely a seed eater, they will pay little attention to peanuts and even less to fat balls; anything on the ground is usually overlooked too. Their particular favourite is nyger seed and you can now buy it in special 'goldfinch only' containers! 

They are smaller than most finches but what they lack in size they make up for in fighting spirit; they can more than hold their own against all comers. Very distinctive in appearance with gold flashes in the wings and red faces so they cannot really be mistaken to any other species.

It was very cold the day I took this photoraph and I took it through the window so it is not quite as sharp as I would have liked. I will try and get a better one one day!


Common Name Goldfinch
Scientific Name Carduelis carduelis
Species Group Birds Finches and Buntings
Status Frequent
Interest Level
  • 01 - January
  • 02 - February
  • 03 - March
  • 04 - April
  • 05 - May
  • 06 - June
  • 07 - July
  • 08 - August
  • 09 - September
  • 10 - October
  • 11 - November
  • 12 - December
Look for

The bright red face and gold flash in the wings

Identification Notes
  • Form large flocks in winter
  • Are now frequent visitors to garden feeders
  • Have a long twittering song sung from a high perch
Primary Habitat
Preferred Environment
Look for
Additional Identification Notes
Similar Species

The records for this species have been organised into reports, charts, maps and photos. Click a pic below to see the detail:

Notebook Distribution Map Sites List Some Charts Some Photographs Recent Records Guidance Notes

To see related species click here: 

Birds Finches and Buntings