goldfinch nest

The male song is a pleasant liquid twittering, but they are not very territorial, usually only defending the territory around the nest.

It is the female which builds the nest, very often in fruit trees. The nest is a neat structure of grass, rootlets, cobwebs, hair, wool and flower heads lined with thistledown, wool, hair or feathers. The eggs, 17mm x 12mm in size, are pale blue with reddish brown spots and streaks. The clutch may be five or six eggs, which are usually laid from mid-October to mid-February. The female alone incubates from 11-13 days and is fed on the nest by the male. The chicks are brooded by the female for the first week, the male feeding the female who in turns feeds the chicks. Later, both parents feed the chicks which fledge after 12-17 days.

After the nesting season goldfinches congregate in large flocks in their search for food throughout the winter.

Their food consists mainly of seeds from the variety of plants and wild flowers, but particularly thistles and dandelions.

The Nelson Acclimatisation Society seems to have been first in the field with a number of kinds of birds that have been introduced into New Zealand, for the goldfinch was first imported into Nelson, ten birds having been liberated in 1862. During the following 20 years, the species was liberated in several other places. It found its own way to the Kermadec, Chatham, Auckland and Campbell Islands.

Note: I have been observing here on the outskirts of Greytown this winter a huge flock of goldfinches feeding, it seems, in a large patch of nettles, stripping the flower heads. Also recently had an email telling me that goldfinches are partial to marigolds.

—  Greytown 2007

Sub Species:

Other common names:  — 

Thistle-finch, goldie, goldspink, King Harry, red-cap, proud-tail.

Description:  — 

Introduced bird

13 cm., 16 g., black wings with gold bars, brilliant red face, crown black with white around the ears and sides of the neck.

Where to find:  — 

Common and widespread.

More Information:  — 

»»»  Goldfinch page

Poetry:  — 

And you let the goldfinch sing, in the alder near, in spring, -
Toll slowly.
Let her build her nest and sit all the three weeks out on it,
Murmuring not at anything.

— Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Credit for the photograph: — 

Illustration description: — 


Morris, Reverend F.O., A Natural History of the Nests and Eggs of British Birds, 1863.

Reference(s): — 


Heather, B., & Robertson, H., Field Guide to the Birds of New Zealand, 2000.

Oliver, W.R.B., New Zealand Birds, 1955.

Page date & version: — 


Tuesday, 20 May 2014; ver2009v1


©  2005    Narena Olliver,    new zealand birds limited,     Greytown, New Zealand.