Meet the 3 Kinds of Goldfinches in the United States

In the United States, there are three species of goldfinches. Learn what they look like and where to find them.

Goldfinches are one of the birds that people with bird feeders most commonly want to attract. Although many people are familiar with the American Goldfinch, they might not realize that there are actually three species of goldfinch that can be found in the United States. Here’s a little info about each of the goldfinches:

American Goldfinch

Choosing a Nyjer/Thistle Feeder for FinchesCourtesy Eric Ripma
American Goldfinches sharing traditional tube feeder with Common Redpolls.

This species is the most widespread of the three and can be found throughout almost the entire country (eBird range map here). It’s an extremely common feeder birder where it occurs so if you have bird feeders, you are likely familiar with this bird already.

Lesser Goldfinch

Goldfinches of the USRob Ripma
I photographed this Lesser Goldfinch in south Texas.

Both Lesser and Lawrence’s Goldfinches are more western species that do not normally occur in the eastern US (eBird range map for Lesser Goldfinch). The Lesser Goldfinch has a larger range and is more common than Lawrence’s. In the eastern part of their range, Lesser Goldfinches have a black back but farther west, they have a greenish back.

Lawrence’s Goldfinch

Goldfinches of the USRob Ripma
This photo shows a male (center) and female Lawrence’s Goldfinch.

Lawrence’s Goldfinch is found only in the far western United States (eBird range map) and has the most limited range of the three goldfinches. They have an interesting migration pattern. Instead of typical north-south migration, they move more east-west, going from the coast during the breeding season and moving inland for the non-breeding season.

Rob Ripma
Rob Ripma, a lifelong Indiana resident, has traveled and birded extensively throughout the Americas.