Small but Mighty!

Goldfinches travel to the tropics and back

By: Dana Bivens, a Public Affairs Officer for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Yellow bird with a blue background
Photo credit: Peter Pearsall/USFWS

Did you know, many of the birds we see in the Pacific Northwest in the summer spend their winters in the tropics? The goldfinch is no exception! You may have seen this charming bird in Idaho, Oregon, and Washington in the spring and summer months. Goldfinches are a common sight across the continental US and southern Canada. They are frequent residents at backyard bird feeders, and love to mill about in bushes, fields, and floodplains foraging for seeds.

The bright yellow color and aerial acrobatics of these social birds is a delightful sight to see. In the winter months, some of these tiny travelers migrate south as far as Mexico. Weighing in at only 0.7 oz, migrating goldfinches will take up their winter residences in the southern United States, and in northern Mexican states including Baja California, Sonora, Chihuahua, and along the Gulf of Mexico. In mild winters they may also be seen much further north.

While many birds make the trip south, some take up year-round residence in the continental United States, and are a common sight around birdfeeders in the winter when food is scarce. Always pleasant to see on a cold winter day, goldfinches are favorites for wildlife enthusiasts and birdwatchers alike.

Goldfinch on a purple flower
Photo credit: USFWS

Migratory birds are an important part to the Pacific Northwest Ecosystem, and we can all help to improve their habitat and make it safer. Small things like placing bird decals on window glass or keeping cats indoors can help protect all migratory birds, including goldfinches. If you want to make your backyard or garden a gathering spot for goldfinches, check out this information on making your home a home for wildlife, click here.




Conservation stories from one of the world’s most ecologically diverse regions.

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USFWS Columbia Pacific Northwest Region

USFWS Columbia Pacific Northwest Region

Conservation stories from one of the world’s most ecologically diverse regions.

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