Stieglitz / Goldfinch
Stieglitz oder Distelfink / Goldfinch / Chardonneret élégant / Carduelis carduelis

Carduelis carduelis male

Goldfinch male © B. Perry

Scientific classification













Species: C. carduelis


description see here

Binomial name

Carduelis carduelis
(Linnaeus, 1758)

carduelis carduelis female
Goldfinch female © J.Hlasek

Carduelis carduelis Weibchen, Nest und Küken
female and chicks




The relatives

Carduelis caniceps
Siberian goldfinch
(Carduelis caniceps)

The goldfinch, one of the most colourful songbirds, is my personal favourite , this bird can be found throughout Europe, with the exception of the far north. At nesting time in spring they are seldom to be seen. The goldfinch is extremely cautious, is a master at hiding himself, and only his song gives him away occasionally. The nest, which the female builds, is just as well hidden and camouflaged, so that predators only seldom find and plunder it. The female works lichen, leaves, and spruce or pine needles, into the outer layer of the nest and it matches the surroundings. In gardens the goldfinch prefers to build her nest in apple or cherry trees, in parks in maple or poplar trees.
As the female incubates her 5-6 eggs for 12-14 days, the male brings her nourishment to the nest. Both parents feed the young, at first with aphids, and later with pre-digested seeds. After the young have fledged, the goldfinches form flocks, which stay in the area for the entire winter. They have a preference for thistle and evening primrose seed, which they skilfully harvest. They also relish seeds of alder and birch, etc.

Length: 12 cm, the color of the female being paler.
Call: two syllable light “D’idlitt” ; Song is composed of the same tones.
Egg size: 15,6 to20.0 x 12,3 to 14,3 mm

Breeding and Care:

As with most finches, goldfinches are very aggressive during breeding towards other finches, but especially conspecific. For this reason I recommend keeping a single pair in a roomy aviary of at least the following size:

1,20 m deep, and 2m high by 1m wide. The aviary should be about half enclosed, so that the birds are protected from wind and rain, and as well as on hot days, provide shade. In the enclosed portion, a nest should be available such as a canary basket, or on a block of wood (nistklotz). So that the birds feel even safer, it should be densely surrounded with evergreen branches and twigs. Take care however, that observation of the nest and banding of the baby birds is still possible. As nest material I use horsehair, sisal, and coconut fiber, as well as plant silk from thistle, dandelion, and Scharpie. If the pair accepts each other, then they will start soon with the building of the nest, and finally the egg laying begins. After about 12 days the chicks hatch. The parents should be given a wide variety of fresh seed, even before the eggs hatch. For the raising of the young, live food is necessary in the form of aphids, freshly flayed mealworms, ant larvae, or pinkies. I have also had success with some commercial products. Usually after five days, the young will also be fed by the male. Then the female can leave the nest more frequently, having up to this point left the nest only to relieve herself and drink. Banding should take place 5 days after hatching. After about 14 days, the young birds leave the nest, and are cared for by only one parent as the second brood is often already started. It is important that during this stressful time a wide variety of food and mineral supplements are always available.
Breeders interested in natural pair bonding, with better breeding success, should keep the birds to be bred in a community aviary in fall. The birds should be identified with colored bands, so that in spring, the formed pairs can be easily identified. In fall and during very cold winter weather, the feed can contain seed with a higher fat content (hemp, sunflower, safflower, etc.) In spring this should be again reduced, otherwise the birds become fat, and breed poorly. The housing should not be heated in winter, but a drinking water heater should be provided.

Subspecies and Distribution.
Carduelis Group.
C. c. bretannica Britain, Ireland, W and N-W France, and coastal zone of Belgium and Netherlands. C. c. carduelis from Denmark, Netherlands and Belgium, and Central France Ethrough Europe to C Urals, S to mainland Italy, N Yugoslavia, N-W Rumania, northern Ukraine, and C European Russia.
C. c. parva S France, Iberia, Balearic Is., Azores, Madeira, Canary Is., and N Africa from Morocco to Cyrenaica.
C. c. tschussi Corsica, Sardinia, Elba, and Sicily.
C. c. balcanica Yugoslavia and S Rumania to Crete and European Turkey.
C. c. niedecki E Sporades, Rhodes, and Karpathos, Asia Minor , N Iraq, Transcaucasia N to S slope of Caucasus, Zagros mountains S to Shiraz, Cyprus, levant, and Egypt.
C. c. loudoni N Iran from Azarbaijan to Gorgan an E Turkey.
C. c. brevirostris (synonym: colchicus) S-W slope of Caucasus, E to above Gagra, N slope of Caucasus and Crimea.
C. c. volgensis S Ukraine, N-E Rumania, and S-E European Russia, Sto plains N of Caucasus
C. c. frigoris (synonym: major) W and C Siberia E and S to Yenisey, W Altai, Zaysan basin, and N Kazakhstan. In winter to S-E European Russia, Transcaspia, and perhaps Middle East.
Caniceps Group.
C. c. ultima S-E Fars and Kerman, S Iran.
C. c. paropanisi N-E Iran and N Afghanista East through Turkmenia, Uzbekistan, and Tien Shan, S-E Kazakhstan.
C. c. subalata S-C Siberia from C and S Altai through W Mongolia and Tuva to Angara and Lake Baykal. C. c. caniceps W Pakistan N to Himalayas, E to C Nepal.

There are color mutations known to the golfinch (subspecies major: Achat, Isabell, yellow and satin).


7-10 million breeding pairs ubiquitous across Europe and southern Scandinavia.

Population in Germany:
300.000 - 600.000 constantly

Source ©BirdGuides 2001 and NABU

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