Goldfinches- Hebridean Birds Sightings

Western Isles Birds Sightings - The goldfinch is a small lightweight bird - an acrobatic finch with broad yellow band across the back wings. The adults have a red face, white sides to head and black nape band.



The first succesful breeding here in The Outer Hebrides is recorded as being in 2000

Double-figure flocks now appear regularly here in The Western Isles - so not unusual but still nice to see them.
Goldcrest -  Western Isles Bird Sightings
Bird Overview - Goldfinches
Latin name
Carduelis carduelis


Similar Species

Goldfinches are almost tropical in appearance, with long, pointed beaks that make them specialists in extracting seeds.


The body is predominantly golden or tawny brown, but the belly and rump are white. The wings are mostly black with a large striking yellow band. The bill varies from pinkish to pale grey, and the legs are flesh coloured

.The sexes are similar except that the male's red face extends slightly behind the eye. Juveniles are generally a dull brown with darker streaking on the body, and lack the red, black and white markings on the head.

Length: 12 cm Wingspan: 21-25.5 cm

These birds can be seen anywhere there are scattered bushes and trees, rough ground with thistles and other seeding plants



In winter many UK goldfinches migrate as far south as Spain.


Goldfinches feed on doft ripe or half ripe seeds and various tree seeds, such as alder and birch, and on thistle, teasel and dandelion seeds, which it can obtain owing to its thin bill and light weight. The golfinches will feed on seed feeders left in gardens especially on sunflower seeds, though they prefer sunflower hearts from the meadows.

Their long fine beaks allow them to extract otherwise inaccessible seeds from thistles and teasels. Surprisingly, it is only the males that are able to extract seeds from teasel heads. The male goldfinches cling to the stem and tear into it, accessing the seeds inside by probing with their extra-long bill.

Their song is like all finches - a variation of the chattering, skipping flight call - skip-i-lip or tlilip with lilting and liquid trills.

Goldfinches appear to nest in areas with scattered trees and shrubs (including gardens)

The nest of the golfinch is neatly constructed from grasses, moss, roots and lichens, interwoven with wool and hair and usually is sited some way off the ground, though can be in hedges and evergreens. The cup of the nest is quite deep relative to its width.

Misc. Info
Golfinches - The first successful breeding in the Outer Hebrides in 2000 and according to Birds of Scotland has shown one of the most marked increases and range expansions of any bird in Scotland. Double-figure flocks now appear regularly here in The Western Isles - so not unusual but still nice to see them.
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