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Songbirds of North Dakota


Family Fringillidae

Finches belong to the family Fringillidae, taken from the Latin word fringilla, meaning "small bird". These birds are seed eaters and have strong triangular bills that are used for cracking seeds. Most are strong fliers and migrate between nesting and wintering grounds. They are solitary nesters but often gather in the fall and winter to feed or migrate. Members of this family which can be seen in North Dakota include the pine siskin, red crossbill, redpoll, house finch, evening grosbeak, and American goldfinch.

American Goldfinch
Carduelis tristis

JPG -- Picture and Range Map of Species

The American goldfinch is one of the finches that may be found in North Dakota year-round. It is 4-5 inches long and the only yellow bird with black wings, head, and tail. The male is vivid lemon yellow during the spring and summer. The female is olive-yellow and lacks a black cap but retains the black wings and tail. It is often referred to as the "wild canary".

Birds live together in flocks which fly in undulating pattern in search of seeds. Some of their preferred seeds include thistle, golden rod, and sunflower. The goldfinch builds a typical cup-shaped nest of tightly woven materials which is attached to a small twig. The female lays 4-5 unmarked, pale blue eggs.

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