Buds-n-Bugs: American goldfinch

Published: Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 09:46 AM.

The nest is built in late summer by the female in the branches of a deciduous shrub or tree at a height of up to 33 feet. The nest building lasts approximately six days. The male frequently flies with the female as she collects nesting materials, and though he may carry some materials back to the nest, he leaves its construction to her. The outer shell of the nest is built of bark, weeds, vines, and grass. The inside diameter of the finished nest is about three inches. The rim is reinforced with bark bound by spider webs and caterpillar silk, and the cup is lined with plant down from milkweed, thistle, or cattail. The nest is so tightly woven that it can hold water, and it is possible for nestlings to drown following a rainstorm if the parents do not cover the nest.

American goldfinches lay four to six bluish-white eggs, oval in shape. Two or three pairs may group their territories together in a loose colony, perhaps to aid in defense against predators.

The goldfinch is not threatened by human activity, and is widespread throughout its range. The clearing of forests by humans, though harmful to many species, has benefited the goldfinch. Clearing of woodlands causes declines in numbers of long distance migrants, while favoring the American goldfinch both as a short-distance migrant, and because the created open areas are the preferred environment of the bird, where weeds thrive which produce the primary food source of the goldfinch

This handsome little finch is the state bird of New Jersey , Iowa , and Washington .

In art and Christian legend, the goldfinch is symbolic of the resurrection. According to one legend, the bird was a witness to Christ carrying the cross and tried to pluck the crown of thorns from his head.

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