BOM: Lesser Goldfinch
Scientific name: Spinus psaltria
Lesser Goldfinches are tiny, stub-billed songbirds with long, pointed wings, and short, notched tails. Males are bright yellow below with a glossy black cap and white patches in the wings; their backs can be glossy black or dull green (particularly on the West Coast). They have a black tail with large, white corners. Females and immatures have olive backs, dull yellow underparts, and black wings marked by two whitish wingbars.
Lesser Goldfinches feed in weedy fields, budding treetops, and the brush of open areas and edges. Depending on food availability, they may concentrate in mountain canyons and desert oases, but they are also fairly common in suburbs.
The Lesser Goldfinch makes its home in patchy open habitats of many kinds. This songbird frequents thickets, weedy fields, woodlands, forest clearings, scrublands, farmlands, and even desert oases. You can also find them in parks and gardens in both suburban and urban settings. Some common habitats in the include oak, pinyon-juniper, cottonwood, willow, cedar, and pine woodlands, as well as chaparral.
In the Reno and Sparks areas, Lesser Goldfinches readily come to feeders along with other finches such as American Goldfinches and Pine Siskins. These small finches eat many kinds of seeds from the sunflower family, including the thin-hulled seeds of nyjer thistle.
Where their ranges overlap in California, the Lesser Goldfinch-though smaller-dominates the Lawrence's Goldfinch. The Lesser Goldfinch eats first at feeding stations and chases Lawrence's Goldfinches away from nesting sites.
For more information on Lesser Goldfinch, visit one of the three Moana Nursery store locations: 1100 W. Moana Ln. & 11301 S. Virginia St., Reno and 7644 Pyramid Hwy., Sparks.
Carmel Ruiz-Hilton is Manager of Wild Birds Unlimited Nature Shops at Moana Nursery in Reno/Sparks