Lesser goldfinch (Spinus psaltria)

   ›      ›   Lesser goldfinch - Spinus psaltria

The lesser goldfinch (Spinus psaltria) belongs to the family of goldfinch and siskin, the Fringillidae.

The lesser goldfinch species are distributed in Southwestern North America, Central America and Northwestern South America. The goldfinch species is partially migratory. This goldfinch species is polytypic.

Key Facts Description
Pictures of Lesser Goldfinch Distribution
Ecosystem & Habitat Conservation

Lesser goldfinch - Description and identification

The lesser goldfinch (Spinus psaltria) is a small finch, measuring 9 to 12 cm in length and weighing 8 to 12 grams.

The males of lesser goldfinch have bright yellow underparts and some white patches on the wings. The upperparts are bluish black. The throat and the sides of the neck are bright yellow. There is variation in coloration in the subspecies.

The bill is stout and grayish yellow. The legs and feet are grayish. The irises are dark. The eye ring is gray. The call is a harsh loud "chig.. chig.. chig" sound or a very high-pitched, drawn-out whistling sound.
Lesser goldfinch - Spinus psaltria pictures
1.Lesser goldfinch - Spinus psaltria
Image by Alejandro Bayer Tamayo

Lesser goldfinch images
2.Lesser goldfinch - Spinus psaltria
Image by Alejandro Bayer Tamayo

Spinus psaltria photos
3.Lesser goldfinch - Spinus psaltria
Image by Alejandro Bayer Tamayo

Lesser goldfinch - Spinus psaltria images
4.Lesser goldfinch - Spinus psaltria
Image by Alejandro Bayer Tamayo

Lesser goldfinch - Geographical range and distribution

These species are distributed in southwest North America, Central America and northwest South America.

In North America, the lesser goldfinch species are distributed in southwest Canada, western and southern USA, Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama.

In northwestern South America, these species are distributed in Peru, Ecuador, Colombia and Venezuela.

The lesser goldfinch nominate subspecies S. p. psaltria is distributed in west central USA to southern Mexico. The subspecies S. p. jouyi is distributed in southeast Mexico and north Belize. The subspecies S. p. witti occurs in Mary Islands (Mexico).

The subspecies S. p. hesperophilus is distributed in western coastal USA and western Mexico. The subspecies S. p. colombianus is distributed in south Mexico, Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador and Peru.

Ecosystem and habitat

These goldfinch species do not normally occur in forests. They normally occur in altitudes between 0 to 3100 meters. The artificial ecosystems include plantations, rural gardens and urban areas.

The natural ecosystems and habitats of the goldfinch species include tropical and subtropical dry shrublands, high altitude shrublands and montane subtropical and temperate woodlands.

Diet and feeding behavior

The diet of the lesser goldfinch species consists mainly of seeds and fruits. Small larval and adult insects, small beetles and plant matter are their primary food. They are usually seen in flocks, feeding on the ground.

Reproduction and breeding habits

The breeding season of these goldfinch species is during summer in the temperate parts of their breeding range. In tropical regions, there is year round breeding.

The breeding ecosystem includes trees, bushes and shrubs. The nest is a cup made with grasses, rootlets, lichens and plant fibers. The clutch comprises three or four bluish white eggs.

Migration and movement patterns

The lesser goldfinch species are partially migratory as well as resident birds.

The populations in higher altitudes may descend to lower levels during winter. Breeding populations in central North America may move towards coastal regions during winter.

Post breeding, the juveniles may disperse and establish in new locations within the range. Within their range they may make local movements for feeding and breeding.

Lesser goldfinch - Quick Facts

  • Scientific name: Spinus psaltria
  • Species author: (Say, 1822)
  • Synonyms/Protonym: Fringilla psaltria Say, 1822
  • Family: Fringillidae › Passeriformes › Aves › Chordata › Animalia
  • Vernacular names: English: Lesser goldfinch, Chinese: 暗背金翅雀, French: Chardonneret mineur, German: Mexikozeisig, Spanish: Jilguero menor, Russian: Малый чиж, Japanese: ヒメキンヒワ
  • Other names: Lesser Goldfinch, Arkansas Goldfinch, Dark-backed Goldfinch
  • Distribution: Southwest North America, Central America, Northwest South America
  • Diet and feeding habits: seeds, fruits, insects
  • IUCN status listing: Least Concern (LC)

Lesser goldfinch - Conservation and survival

The global population size of the lesser goldfinch (Spinus psaltria) has not been quantified. The overall population trend of the species is considered to be declining.

In most of its range, this goldfinch species is reported to be common to uncommon. The generation length is 4.5 years. Its distribution size is about 13,700,000 sq.km.

Ecosystem degradation, ecosystem conversion and capture of adults and juveniles for pet-trade are the main threats that may endanger the survival of the species.

IUCN and CITES status

The lesser goldfinch (Spinus psaltria) species does not approach the thresholds for being Vulnerable either under the range size criterion or under the population trend criterion or under the population size criterion.

The IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) has categorized and evaluated the species and has listed it as of "Least Concern (LC)".

The CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) status is ‘Not Evaluated’ for the lesser goldfinch (Spinus psaltria).
Taxonomy and scientific classification of Spinus psaltria
Species:S. psaltria
Binomial name:Spinus psaltria
IUCN status listing:
Least Concern
The five recognized subspecies of the lesser goldfinch (Spinus psaltria) are:
Spinus psaltria psaltria (Say, 1822),
Spinus psaltria colombianus (Lafresnaye, 1843),
Spinus psaltria jouyi (Ridgway, 1898),
Spinus psaltria witti P. R. Grant, 1964 and
Spinus psaltria hesperophilus (Oberholser, 1903).
Popular posts in Bird World
Blue-eared barbet Fulvous-breasted woodpecker
Blue-winged pitta Rosy minivet
European golden-plover Whimbrel
Great crested tern Ashy-headed green pigeon
Crow-billed drongo Andean siskin
Horned screamer American black duck
Choco tinamou Russet-backed oropendola
Yellow-faced siskin American wigeon
Black-headed jay Dusky-green oropendola
Barnacle goose Red-billed blue magpie
Red siskin White-cheeked tern
Green imperial-pigeon Short-eared owl
Scarlet-breasted woodpecker Grey-chinned minivet
Isabelline shrike Black-naped oriole
Indian pitta Malabar barbet
Stripe-breasted woodpecker Blue-throated barbet
Sabine's gull Mangrove whistler
White-tailed lapwing Orange-breasted green pigeon
Andaman coucal Spotted owlet
Sirkeer malkoha Asian barred owlet
White-cheeked barbet Brown-capped pygmy woodpecker

1.Image source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/alejobayer/45130118224/ (cropped)
Image author: Alejandro Bayer Tamayo | License: CC BY-SA 2.0 as on 1/16/19
2.Image source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/alejobayer/45130117824/ (cropped)
Image author: Alejandro Bayer Tamayo | License: CC BY-SA 2.0 as on 1/16/19
3.Image source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/alejobayer/45130118214/ (cropped)
Image author: Alejandro Bayer Tamayo | License: CC BY-SA 2.0 as on 1/16/19
4.Image source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/alejobayer/30915615607/ (cropped)
Image author: Alejandro Bayer Tamayo | License: CC BY-SA 2.0 as on 1/16/19
Link to Creative Commons copyright licenses

Recently updated and current topic in Bird World: Lesser goldfinch (Spinus psaltria).

Contact State Tourism or travel agents for bird watching and wildlife tours.