Bird Sightings : Hebrides : Goldfinch
(British Goldfinch, Eastern Goldfinch, Eurasian Goldfinch, European Goldfinch, Goldfinch)
Photograph © Grahame Thompson
Stornoway Castle Grounds - Isle of Lewis - Outer Hebrides (Western Isles)
Grahame is one of two British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) ringers on the Isle of Lewis, he does the East side. His usual areas are the Castle Grounds and Aiginish, plus a whole heap of other sites depending on time of year and species!
Our Goldfinch photographs
- Carduelis carduelis
- Gaelic: Deargan-froich
- UK: Summer 313,000 pairs BTO. Winter: 100,000 birds (RSPB)
- WI: Uncommon (low numbers) passage and winter visitor. There is a breeding record.
- Breeding: Often breeds in loose colonies. Cup nest in a bush. Lays 4-6 black-speckled eggs. Europe, Asia (Australia & New Zealand introduced).
- Wintering: Northernmost birds migrate south within the breeding range. Many UK Goldfinches migrate to Spain
- Habitat: Open country with plenty of seeds: woodland, farmland, villages (bird feeders)
- Diet: Small seeds: thistles, daisies, teasels & self-heal. Has a longish very pointed bill for seed extraction. Summer some insects
- Slim, dainty finch 12-13cm length. Bright red face bordered by white. Back of head & nape black. Upper parts brown. Yellow wing patch which shows as a broad yellow wingbar in flight. White rump (above tail). Black, slightly forked tail. Male's red face extends behind the eye, female's red reaches front of eye or extends only 1-2mm behind eye . Juveniles plain head & greyer back but still have the yellow wing patch. Sociable, in winter forms flock of up to 40 birds.
- Typical age 2yrs, oldest recorded 8yrs 8mths
- Listen to a Goldfinch (RSPB site). Tinkling call & twittering song
- Similar birds: Greenfinch
The Latin name for the Goldfinch is from carduus, thistle, the seed of which is a typical part of the diet of the Goldfinch.
A colourful bird with a pleasant song the Goldfinch was and still is a popular caged bird. Via escapes and releases it was introduced to Australia and New Zealand where it now forms vast colonies.
Two or more finches are called a charm.
Male or Female Goldfinch?
On the male Goldfinch the part of the red face of which is just above the bird's eye extends back several mm behind the eye, but on the female it only reaches the front of the eye or extends just one or two mm behind the eye.
(Another name for the red face of a Goldfinch is the blaze.
Red extends back several mm behind eye
Red just reaches front of eye or extends only 1-2mm behind eye
Goldfinch records in the Western Isles
Uncommon (low numbers) passage and winter visitor.
Scarce (very small numbers recorded in most years) before 1997.
There is a breeding record.
Source: Outer Hebrides Bird Report (2001)
The chart below shows how abundant the Goldfinch is during a month or when you are more likely to see it.
(Source: Outer Hebrides Birds Checklist)
Other local bird photographs
Sources of information for the bird sightings section