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The American goldfinch, Carduelis tristis, is a small, brightly-colored North American bird that is sometimes called the wild canary. This little bird lives in brushy thickets, seed-bearing trees, and weedy grasslands. It ranges from Mexico to southeastern British Columbia to Newfoundland. In winter, goldfinches gather in large flocks, as they fly to warm areas, including the Gulf of Mexico and southern Mexico. The song is high-pitched and long.

Anatomy: The goldfinch is from 4 1/2 to 5 inches (11-14 cm) long. Males are bright yellow with a black forehead, a white rump, and the wings and tail are black with white edges. Male coloration in the winter is duller. Females are camouflaged with duller colors; they are gray with black wings, white wing bars, and a notched tail. The bill is stubby.

Diet: Goldfinches mostly eat seeds (insects are also eaten).

Nest and Eggs: The goldfinch nests in a small tree or shrub; nests are located on a fork in a branch. Nests are open cups made from grass, bark strips, and other plant material. Nesting starts in middle to late summer (when seeds are readily available). Females lay 4-5 pale blue eggs in each clutch (a set of eggs laid at one time). The incubation period is 10 to 12 days.

Classification: Kingdom Animalia (animals), phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Aves (birds), order Passeriformes, family Fringillidae, genus Carduelis, species C. tristis.

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