The American goldfinch (Spinus tristis), also known as the eastern goldfinch or "lightning bird," is a small North American bird in the finch family. It is migratory, ranging from mid-Alberta to North Carolina during the breeding season, and from just south of the Canada–United States border to Mexico during the winter.

The only finch in its subfamily to undergo a complete molt, the American goldfinch displays sexual dimorphism in its coloration; the male is a vibrant yellow in the summer and an olive color during the winter, while the female is a dull yellow-brown shade which brightens only slightly during the summer. The male displays brightly colored plumage during the breeding season to attract a mate.

The American goldfinch is a granivore and adapted for the consumption of seedheads, with a conical beak to remove the seeds and agile feet to grip the stems of seedheads while feeding. It is a social bird, and will gather in large flocks while feeding and migrating. It may behave territorially during nest construction, but this aggression is short-lived. Its breeding season is tied to the peak of food supply, beginning in late July, which is relatively late in the year for a finch. This species is generally monogamous, and produces one brood each year.

Human activity has generally benefited the American goldfinch. It is often found in residential areas, attracted to bird feeders which increase its survival rate in these areas. Deforestation also creates open meadow areas which are its preferred habitat.
American Goldfinch
Date Location Count
2020-01-17 10:20Ashburn Lake1
2020-01-24 14:02Bles Park1
2020-01-24 09:30Elizabeth Mills Riverfront Park2
2020-01-16 08:35Broadlands Wetlands Nature Preserve1
2020-01-26 09:03C&O Canal--Sycamore Landing4
2020-01-15 07:20Sycamore Landing Rd. fields1
2020-01-23 10:16Red Rock Wilderness Overlook Regional Park1
2020-01-23 10:19Hughes Hollow - McKee Beshers WMA4
2020-01-26 13:30Dulles Airport--Pond2
2020-01-24 10:07Ball's Bluff Battlefield Regional Park3
2020-01-24 07:45Algonkian Nature Preserve--Sanctuary Trail5
2020-01-26 09:00Olde Izaak Walton Park10
2020-01-21 13:53Runnymede Park1
2020-01-23 11:30C&O Canal--Riley's Lock3
2020-01-22 13:50Frying Pan Farm Park2
2020-01-17 12:23Morven Park1
2020-01-26 14:18Rust Nature Sanctuary2
2020-01-17 08:43Stratton Woods Park10
2020-01-13 10:59Seneca Trailhead Park/Seneca Tract1
2020-01-24 06:54C&O Canal--Violette's Lock4
2020-01-23 13:04White's Ford Regional Park4
2020-01-26 13:40Sully Woodlands4
2020-01-20 12:30Lake Fairfax Park2
2020-01-20 10:40JK Black Oak Wildlife Sanctuary (private)1
2020-01-21 09:33C&O Canal--Pennyfield Lock1
2020-01-24 06:12White Ground Road1
2020-01-26 06:20Hoyles Mill Conservation Park1
2020-01-21 12:05Black Hill RP--Little Seneca Lake, Rte.1211
2020-01-25 12:30Glenstone Museum (restricted access)2
2020-01-19 13:25Great Falls Park1
2020-01-25 08:57Greenfield Road1
2020-01-24 10:24Black Hill Regional Park5
2020-01-25 11:41Black Hill RP--Ten Mile Creek area, trails and lake1
2020-01-20 10:57C&O Canal--Great Falls2
2020-01-24 09:10Black Hill RP--Boat Ramp area2
2020-01-15 09:30Black Hill RP--Crystal Rock Trail2
2020-01-15 13:45Lake Churchill, Germantown2
2020-01-24 09:25Gunners Lake13