Common Name

Scientific Name


Photo by Jim Parrish
Photo Copyright Jim Parrish

The lesser goldfinch, Carduelis psaltria, occurs throughout the southwestern United States, Mexico, and Central America, as well as in portions of northern South America. In Utah, this bird can be found statewide at mid to low elevations, but most predictably in the southern half of the state. Utah breeding populations generally withdraw south in winter, with the exception of birds in the southwestern corner of the state, which are year-round residents of the same area. This bird prefers scrub woodlands, such as scrub oak and pinyon-juniper habitats.

The lesser goldfinch feeds on seeds, buds, fruits, and occasionally insects. The timing of breeding is quite variable across the range of this species, but nest building and egg laying typically occur in late spring or early summer in Utah. Nests are built primarily by the female, though the male may occasionally help. Nests are located in trees or bushes, usually within dense vegetation, from three feet to thirty feet above ground; nests are constructed mainly of small plant fibers and are lined with hair or feathers. Usually four or five eggs are laid but sometimes three or six may be laid. The female parent incubates the eggs for twelve or thirteen days while being fed at the nest by the male. After the eggs hatch, the female feeds the young with food brought to the nest by the male for the first five days, but both parents feed the young thereafter. The age at which young leave the nest is not well documented, but is believed to be about eleven days.


  • Watt, D. J., and E. J. Willoughby. 1999. Lesser goldfinch (Carduelis psaltria). Birds of North America 392: 24 pp.

  • Baicich, P. J., and C. J. O. Harrison. 1997. A guide to the nests, eggs, and nestlings of North American Birds, Second Ed. Academic Press, San Diego. 347 pp.