“Where do American Goldfinches like to nest?” is an informative article that explores the nesting habits and behavior of American Goldfinches. The article explains that although these birds are common across the United States, they do not use nest boxes or birdhouses. Instead, they build cup-like nests lined with thistle down in bushes and trees found in fields and open areas. The article also touches on topics such as courtship, mating, and the reproduction process of American Goldfinches. With its friendly tone and wealth of information, this article is a must-read for bird enthusiasts looking to attract and observe these beautiful birds in their own backyards.
Where do American Goldfinches like to nest?
American Goldfinches are common birds across the United States and can be found breeding in the northern half and southern Canada. During the winter, most American Goldfinches migrate south. Regardless of where you live in the United States, it is highly likely that you will have American Goldfinches visit your backyard at some point throughout the year. While American Goldfinches do not use nest boxes or birdhouses, they have specific nesting habits and preferences when it comes to choosing the location for their nests.
Nesting habits and reproduction of American Goldfinches
During early summer, you may notice that American Goldfinches disappear from your feeders. This is because they go off to raise their families. American Goldfinches are monogamous and wait until mid-summer to begin nesting. They typically produce only one brood per nesting season, occasionally having a second brood. The female takes on most of the responsibilities early on, including selecting the location, building the nest, and incubating the eggs. The male helps by providing food for the female during this time. Once the eggs hatch, the male takes on more of the care, even exclusively feeding the fledglings for a few weeks after they leave the nest. After the nesting season, American Goldfinches form back into large flocks in late fall.
Courtship and mating
Courtship for American Goldfinches generally begins in July (May in the West). During courtship, several males may chase after a female for up to 20 minutes. Eventually, the female chooses one of the males as her mate. Paired birds can be recognized by their courtship flight, where both birds fly high in a large circle. The male flies slowly, fluttering his wings and holding his tail open widely while singing. The female follows him.
The female American Goldfinch takes on the task of selecting the exact area to build the nest. She constructs the nest herself, though the male may bring some nesting materials. It takes the female about 6 days to build the nest, starting with the outer part made of twigs or bark strips held together with spider webs or caterpillar silk. She then adds a layer of plant fibers, such as weeds and grasses, and finally lines the inside of the nest with fluffy plant seeds (“pappus”) of thistledown and milkweed. The nest is tightly constructed and can hold water, so the female shields it from rain to prevent the young from drowning. The nest is usually about 3 inches wide on the outside and 2-1/2 inches wide on the inside. It is often placed in a shrub, sapling, or deciduous tree at the edge of a clearing, away from dense woods.
American Goldfinches typically lay 4-6 eggs, with occasional clutches of 2-7 eggs. The eggs are about 0.65 inches long and are bluish-white in color. Some eggs may have light spotting. The female is responsible for incubating the eggs. She waits until all the eggs are laid before starting incubation to ensure they all hatch on the same day. The male supports the female by bringing her food while she is on the nest. The eggs hatch after 12-14 days of incubation.
Young–nesting and fledglings
When the goldfinch chicks hatch, they are naked with closed eyes and extremely vulnerable. At first, the mother feeds the young while the male brings her food to feed the chicks. As the chicks grow, both parents are actively involved in feeding them. The young are fed only seeds, which is a unique behavior among bird species. The chicks grow rapidly, with their eyes opening after 3 days and their juvenile feathers fully developed after 11-15 days. They are ready to leave the nest after 11-17 days. Once they leave the nest, the male continues to feed and care for them for up to 3 more weeks.
American Goldfinches do not use artificial nest boxes. However, they may use natural cotton batting if provided as nesting material. They are more likely to construct their nests in shrubs and trees using twigs, plant fibers, and fluffy plant seeds.
How many chicks do you count?
The number of chicks produced by American Goldfinches can vary, but they typically have a clutch size of 4-6 eggs. Occasionally, they may have larger clutches of 2-7 eggs. Each egg is laid one night at a time.
Is feeding goldfinches a good thing?
Feeding goldfinches can provide them with easy access to food, especially during times when natural food sources may be scarce. It is beneficial for them to have a reliable food source, such as a bird feeder, where they can find seeds. However, it is important to also provide water for goldfinches as it is an essential component of their diet.
Timing of nesting and habitat maintenance
American Goldfinches nest rather late in the year, typically from July to September. Therefore, it is important to maintain suitable habitat for them during this time. Keep fields and open areas with scattered bushes and trees intact to provide nesting sites. Avoid trimming or cutting down these habitats during the nesting season to ensure the goldfinches have a safe place to raise their young.
American Goldfinches are beautiful and fascinating birds that have specific nesting habits and preferences. They build cup-like nests in bushes and trees, using a combination of twigs, plant fibers, and fluffy plant seeds. They are monogamous and usually raise only one brood per nesting season. The female takes on most of the nest duties early on, while the male assists by providing food. After the eggs hatch, the male takes on more of the care, even exclusively feeding the fledglings for a few weeks. While American Goldfinches do not use nest boxes, providing natural nesting materials like cotton batting can be beneficial. Overall, creating a suitable habitat and providing a reliable food source can help attract and support American Goldfinches in your backyard.