8 Types of Yellow Finches in North America

Hey there! If you’re a bird enthusiast, you’re probably familiar with the charming yellow finch.

These small birds are known for their bright yellow plumage and cheerful chirps.

Did you know that there are eight different types of yellow finches found in North America?

In this article, I’ll be discussing each of these species, including their physical characteristics, behavior, and where you can find them.

Whether you’re a seasoned birdwatcher or just starting out, keep reading to learn about these fascinating birds and add them to your list of sightings!

American GoldfinchAmerican Goldfinch
Lesser GoldfinchLesser Goldfinch
Pine SiskinPine Siskin
Evening GrosbeakEvening Grosbeak
Lawrence’s GoldfinchLawrence’s Goldfinch
Yellow-fronted CanaryYellow-fronted Canary
Eurasian SiskinEurasian Siskin
Yellow GrosbeakYellow Grosbeak

Types of Yellow Finches in North America

1. American Goldfinch

American Goldfinch

Male American Goldfinches are easily recognizable by their distinctive springtime yellow and black plumage.

The ladies, and the males in the wintertime, are a darker brown than usual.

The American goldfinch is a common and widespread year-round inhabitant over most of North America.

While they spend the summer across Canada and the Midwest, the birds that nest there spend the winter mostly in the southern states of the United States.

They forage for food among the sunflowers, thistles, and asters that grow wild in unkempt fields and thickets.

Also frequent in suburban and park settings, as well as private yards.

Planting milkweed and thistles in the garden can bring in American Goldfinches.

They will come to your bird feeders, and their favorite foods are nyjer and sunflower seeds.

2. Lesser Goldfinch

Lesser Goldfinch

Little, vivid yellow and black songbirds known as Lesser Goldfinches have long, pointy wings and short, hooked tails.

Females tend to have a duller shade of yellow on the inside and have olive-colored backs.

All year long, you may see Lesser Goldfinches throughout the southwest and western states of the United States, but the birds that nest in the center of those regions go south for the wintertime.

Large groups of Lesser Goldfinches congregate in open areas such as parks, lawns, clearings in the forest, and weedy meadows.

Sunflower seeds are a favorite, but they also eat other types of seeds, berries, and buds from trees, including willows, cottonwoods, alders, and sycamores.

Feeding Nyjer and sunflower seeds from tube or platform feeders can attract Lesser Goldfinches to your yard.

3. Pine Siskin

Pine Siskin

The Pine Siskin is a small brownish bird having a yellow wing and tail bands.

There is a pronounced fork in their tail, sharp tips on their wings, and a small, sharp beak.

Pine siskins spend the whole year in the pine woodlands in the West and near the Canadian border.

A few do so in Canada and then travel south for the cold season.

They range over most of North America, based on the harvests of the pine cone.

Pine siskins get the majority of their diet from conifer seeds in addition to eating weed and grass seeds and new buds.

Pine siskin nests are constructed 12 to 53 feet from the ground and the upper stem of the tree.

They house about 4 to 7 eggs and are constructed from moss, twigs, and bark.

Usually, eggs don’t hatch for another 13 days.

Pine siskins might be lured into backyards using sunflower and suet seeds as well as the more common nyjer and thistle.

The chirp of the Pine Siskin is responsible for the bird’s common name. 

4. Evening Grosbeak

Evening Grosbeak

The Evening Grosbeak is a large, boldly patterned bird that is mostly yellow and black.

The adult males are easily recognizable by the threatening appearance of the brilliant yellow stripe that runs across their eyes. 

Their bellies and chests are yellow, while their heads are a dark shade of black, and their throats are gray.

Their wings also include a white spot.

Females and young males seem similar, with green bills, primarily grayish bodies, white and black wings, and a touch of yellow on the throat.

Throughout southern Canada and along the west coast towards northern California, evening grosbeaks are permanent residents.

When cone harvests are bad, however, they go south to the southern states of the United States.

It is common to see Evening Grosbeaks in wooded or mountainous areas.

Throughout the winter, they frequently visit garden bird feeders in search of an easy food source.

Throughout the summer and spring months, evening grosbeaks eat flower buds and bug larvae off trees; during the wintertime, they gather to garden feeders and eat berries, seeds, and tiny fruit.

Evening Grosbeaks often build their nests in pine trees approximately 105 feet from the ground.

Nests are haphazard constructions constructed of moss, rootlets, twigs, grass, and pine needles.

The female lays anything from 1 to 5 eggs that she then incubates for three weeks before they hatch.

Feeding birdseed, berries, and maple buds to the evening grosbeaks will bring them to your garden this winter.

The strong bills of evening grosbeaks allow them to open and shatter seeds that would otherwise be inaccessible to smaller birds, allowing them to make quick work of any leftovers.

5. Lawrence’s Goldfinch

Lawrence's Goldfinches

A little migratory bird, Lawrence’s Goldfinch, is a songbird.

To recognize the males, search for the black lines that run from the top of their heads toward the chin’s bottom. 

The remains of their body are mostly gray, but the chest, abdomen, wings, and back are a bright yellow.

Each wingtip is white, but the whole wing is black.

The females are a quite lighter shade of gray and have comparable markings.

Male juveniles are the same as females in appearance but are considerably paler.

The Lawrence’s Goldfinch is a type of finch that breeds across California and then moves a small distance south and east to winter.

The Lawrence’s Goldfinch is most often seen in open oak forests and shrubby places with access to water.

Throughout the winter months, one may locate them across weedy meadows, as well as in the vicinity of streams and other bodies of water.

The diet of Lawrence’s goldfinch comprises mostly seeds. To get to them, they will even dangle from the ceiling or lower branches.

There are occasions when they have to search for food, and when they do, they consume things like bugs and buds they find on the ground.

Lawrence’s goldfinches spend most of their day in trees, and it is there that they build their intricate nests from flower heads, grass, and feathers.

Typically, there are around nine eggs in a clutch, and the female takes about two weeks to tend to them while incubating them.

In the first three weeks after hatching, the female is responsible for all aspects of the young’s care.

The young will be prepared to leave the nest in one week.

The Lawrence’s Goldfinch migrates through the United States in the opposite direction of most other species of migratory birds, from east to west.

6. Yellow-fronted Canary

Yellow-fronted Canary
Credits: Wikipedia

Male Yellow-fronted Canaries are little birds distinguished by their yellow head, grayish crown and neck, and gray bands across the face and eyes.

They possess a brilliant yellow body with a greenish-brownish tint on the back and wings.

The females are very identical, but their coloring is duller.

The Yellow-fronted Canary lives in a wide variety of habitats, including sand dunes, grasslands, mangroves, and even farmlands.

The Yellow-fronted Canary’s diet includes seeds, insects (including aphids, termites, and grasshoppers), fruit, leaves, and nectar.

The Yellow-fronted Canary often builds its nests in trees, and each clutch contains around five eggs.

Babies spend another three weeks in the nest after hatching from their eggs.

Also called the Green Singing Finch, the Yellow-fronted Canary has a number of other names.

7. Eurasian Siskin

Eurasian Siskin

Eurasian siskins may be identified by their distinctive black chin and cap band.

Greenish yellow cover their whole body, including their face and breasts. 

Their black wings include two bright yellow bands.

The tips of their tails are similarly yellow.

The females and young of this species are pale yellow with dark streaks.

While Eurasian siskins are more at home across Eurasia, you could see one in Alaska or around the northeastern coast of North America.

Forests and wooded areas are where you’ll most likely see a Eurasian siskin.

These birds have erratic migration habits, presumably traveling wherever there are enough seeds.

The seeds of willow and birch catkins are highly beloved by Eurasian siskins.

They’d rather feed in the trees than on the ground. 

They consume the seeds of elms and poplars in the springtime in the coniferous woods where they live.

Herbs such as goosefoots and Compositae are added in the summertime.

Throughout the fall and winter, they feast on the seeds of birch trees and herbaceous plants such as meadowsweet, much like other finches.

The Eurasian Siskin nests high in a fir tree, out of harm’s way.

Nests of breeding couples tend to be located in close proximity to one another, creating colonies.

Twigs, lichen, grass, moss, and down plumage are used to line the tiny, bowl-shaped nests that birds build.

Two to six eggs are laid by the females.

Eggs hatch after 11 to 16 days of incubation, and baby birds are on their own by the 15th day.

A siskin monument stands in St. Petersburg because the bird’s plumage mimics that of the students at a prestigious local institution of higher learning.

The pupils have earned the moniker “siskins” for themselves.

8. Yellow Grosbeak

Yellow Grosbeak
Credits: Wikipedia

The bill of a Yellow Grosbeak, although grayish-black, seems to be overly large for the bird’s body.

In the male, the breast, head, and abdomen are a solid, brilliant yellow, while the black wings are marked with white spots.

Females are often more muted in coloration, with some specimens having an olive sheen to the feathers on their head and body; the wings, however, are a uniform gray with white points.

The Yellow Grosbeak is a seed, fruit, and berry eater that frequents tropical and subtropical woods, woodlands, and shade coffee plantations.

They also like a good meal for bugs.

Yellow Grosbeaks usually construct their nests on trees of medium height or thick underbrush.

Grass and sticks are the primary construction elements, and they are finished with a lining of silk or another luxurious fabric.

The female produces anything from 2 to 5 eggs that take around 2 weeks to hatch after being laid.

Put out some sunflower seeds, apple slices, and peanut kernels to entice Yellow Grosbeaks toward your backyard.


In conclusion, the eight types of yellow finches found in North America are a diverse and colorful group of birds.

From the familiar American goldfinch to the rare and elusive black-backed and Lawrence’s goldfinches, each species has its unique characteristics and behaviors.

Whether you enjoy watching them at your backyard feeder or spotting them in their natural habitats, these charming birds are a delight to observe.

Learning about the different types of yellow finches in North America can add a new level of appreciation to your birdwatching experience and help you appreciate the natural beauty of these amazing creatures.

So, grab your binoculars and get ready to explore the wonderful world of yellow finches!


What is the most common type of yellow finch in North America?

The American goldfinch is the most common type of yellow finch in North America.

What do yellow finches eat?

Yellow finches primarily feed on seeds, especially those from plants such as thistle and sunflowers.

Where can I find yellow finches in North America?

Yellow finches can be found in a variety of habitats, including forests, fields, and suburban areas. Look for trees and shrubs that produce seeds and have a source of water nearby.

What is the difference between male and female yellow finches?

Male yellow finches typically have brighter and more vibrant yellow plumage than females, which are usually a duller yellow or greenish-brown color.

How can I attract yellow finches to my backyard?

Providing a feeder with seeds, planting native plants that produce seeds, and providing a source of water can all help attract yellow finches to your backyard.

Are yellow finches migratory birds?

Some types of yellow finches, such as the pine siskin and evening grosbeak, are migratory birds, while others, like the American goldfinch, are resident birds that stay in their habitat year-round.

Are there any rare or unusual yellow finch species in North America?

The black-backed and Lawrence’s goldfinches are rare and unusual species of yellow finches that are not commonly seen in North America.

Last Updated on May 8, 2023 by Lily Aldrin

About Lily Aldrin

I am Lily Aldrin. I attended Cornell University, where I obtained my degree to become an Ornithologist so I could pursue my love of these magnificent creatures in and out of their natural habitats.

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