Male American Goldfinch in Breeding Plumage – Small in the Frame

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Male American Goldfinch in breeding plumage, Little Emigration Canyon, Summit County, UtahMale American Goldfinch in breeding plumage – Nikon D500, f8, 1/800, ISO 400, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

Imagine a bird whose bright yellow feathers rival the rays of the sun then add a black forehead, ebony eyes, black and white wings and you have a male American Goldfinch in breeding plumage. Feathered sunshine.

I photographed this male American Goldfinch in breeding plumage last June in an alpine canyon as it perched on a wild fruit tree in the morning light. I like that the bird is small in the frame, how the leaves of the tree convey a sense of scale, that the finch is looking towards me and how the leaves frame the bird.

It is a basic image but one that I find appealing because of its elegant simplicity. I guess I might be easy to please at times.

Life is good.


I’ve sorted out the issues with my server and my site is running smoothly this morning. Hurray for the small things!

A few facts about American Goldfinches:

  • American Goldfinches are small finches with small heads, conical bills, short notched tails and long wings. Males in breeding plumage are bright yellow with black foreheads, black wings with bold white patterns. Females are much duller. During the winter American Goldfinches are drab with hint of yellow on their heads and flanks.
  • American Goldfinches molt twice a year, the only member in their family to molt in the spring.
  • American Goldfinches are migratory.
  • Their diet consists almost entirely of seeds and they prefer hanging onto the seed heads to feeding on the ground.
  • American Goldfinch habitat includes brushy thickets, weedy fields, grasslands and floodplains. They are also quite common in suburbs, parks and backyards.
  • American Goldfinches lay 4 to 6 eggs which hatch in 10 to 12 days. The female incubates and they are monogamous.
  • American Goldfinches have also been called “eastern goldfinches” and “lightning birds”.
  • A group of goldfinches can be called a “charm”, “rush”, “treasury” or “vein” of goldfinches.
  • The oldest known goldfinch was nearly 11 years old.




  1. Utahbooklover May 12, 2018 at 1:28 pm

    One of my favorites–beautiful image for this rainy weekend.

  2. Elephants Child May 11, 2018 at 8:53 pm

    This photo has the elegance of a Japanese print.

  3. Pepe Forte May 11, 2018 at 12:30 pm

    Great narrative to accompany such a beautiful pic. Thanks Mia.

  4. Patty Chadwick May 11, 2018 at 7:33 am

    Sunshine on the wing…love it—and the information…thank you! (Had my hair cut by an 98yr old woman who squints because she can’t see very well and won’t wear glasses…still have my ears, hair is MUCH shorter—especially in some places!!! I needed to see that bird….

  5. Bob mcpherson May 11, 2018 at 7:17 am

    Majestic little birds. Beautiful photos, Mia.

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