It is almost June by the time the American Goldfinch returns to Alberta from the southern US. This distinctive yellow bird might be found just about everywhere in the Province south of Fort McMurray, but is most common in the parkland region, and rare in the mountains. A pair will have nested and raised its brood by early September when it is time to head south again.
Shrubby fields, burned or disturbed areas and lake margins are a preferred haunt of this summer bird.
An abundant source of nutritious seed is of paramount importance to these finches, and is the reason they wait so long to return to their breeding grounds, and also the reason they leave early. Weedy fields are great places to look for goldfinches -- with thistle and dandelion seeds being a favorite meal. Like their relatives the redpolls and Pine Siskins, American Goldfinches are drawn to feeders supplying hulled sunflowers and niger seed.
It is late June by the time these carefree birds get around to fashioning a nest of grass or other soft plant material, sometimes incorporating caterpillar nest webs, and lined with thistle down. The female incubates her three to six pale blue eggs for about two weeks and young are fledged 11 to 15 days later. Soon after fledging, the parents are already getting ready to wing south for the winter. The fledglings will make their own way south a couple of weeks later.
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Where to find American Goldfinches in Alberta
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