The American Goldfinch Feeding Preferences

The American Goldfinch is a seed-eater just like the other members of the finch bird family. However, this goldfinch may eat a variety of foods and different kinds of seeds. And because of their varied diet, there’s plenty of food supply the whole year.

The favorite seeds of this bird in the wild include those of thistle, dandelion, ragweed, mullein, cosmos, goatsbeard, sunflower and alder. They may also eat insects like plant lice, caterpillars and berries. They can even extract larvae from fruits and galls. Those who frequently visit feeders can eat sorghum, millet, canary seed, cracked nutmeats and sunflower seeds. What’s also interesting about the American Goldfinch when they eat is that they perform acrobats. They can cling upside down to the heads of sunflowers and then eat while standing upright the next moment on a weed stalk.

As to how they eat, perhaps the American Goldfinch is one of those small birds that use exclusively their feet when eating. Some finches use their feet from time to time while the others mainly use their bills. The American Goldfinches have a special way of extracting seeds from a group of seed capsules at the top of flowers and clinging to stalks. This dexterity with their foot and bill as well as their low body weight allows this bird to acquire food which other competing birds may not be able to get at all.

Most of the time, this bird will seek other birds from his own family when feeding and flying. It is only during winter when it interacts with its relatives such as the siskins and redpolls as they feed in weedy fields and orchards in close proximity to wooded areas.

When a storm is approaching, the birds will display a somewhat panicky behavior because they tend to eat in a hurried fashion at feeders. Also, they gain weight before and during the storm. This behavior is seen as a favorable way of increasing the chance of American Goldfinches to survive under harsh conditions.

The young American Goldfinches, meanwhile, feed mostly on seed. What the parents normally do is to regurgitate several undigested seed bounded by mucus into the mouths of their offspring. The male bird does the feeding even after the female leaves the nest to look for another mate and start another brood. During the incubating period, however, the female is fed by her mate who takes sole responsibility of looking for their food.


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