The American Goldfinch Nesting Preferences
The American Goldfinch is considered one of the newest nesting birds. A member of the finch family of small, active birds, its average life expectancy is from four to seven years. The Goldfinch nesting season starts in late June or early July when the other songbirds are done with their breeding.
Like most songbirds, the female American Goldfinch is the one that mostly builds the nest. They prefer sites that have open space such as gardens, farms, orchards, suburbs and roadsides.
The nest building usually starts in late summer as high as 30 feet above the ground in the edge of a shrub, bush or young tree. It takes about 10 to 40 minutes to build the nest from the searching of materials to laying them down on the site. At times, there may be hours or days when no additional material is brought to the nest. On average, the interval from the start of the nest building until the female bird lays her first egg is usually eight days. One additional amazing fact about this bird is that it weaves its nest so tight that it can be filled with water.
During the nesting period, the female American Goldfinch strips fibers from dead trees, weeds and vines and uses catkins and grass to make the outer layer of the nest. She can be naughty as she is capable of dismantling the nests of other birds to use the materials in her own nest. She then uses barks for the rim of her nest as well as caterpillar webs and sticky spider silk to bind the barks together. The inner part of the nest is lined with plants like thistles, milkweed and cattails.
While searching for nesting materials, the male often goes with the female. He gets more materials but lets the female do the actual building of the nest. The male American Goldfinch normally just stays nearby singing and calling to his mate. When danger is near, either the male or the female will whistle sweet or call “bearbee, bearbee, bearbee.”
Meanwhile during the incubation period, the male feeds her mate. He gathers seeds and stores them in his throat, flies to their nest and calls her mate. The female in turn replies by softly emitting the “teeteeteetee” sound. There are times when the female may leave her nest to get the seeds. Other times, the male will perch on the nest’s rim and feeds the female by putting his bill in his mate’s.
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