U.S. State Bird of Iowa, New Jersey and Washington
- American Goldfinch
The American Goldfinch is the State Bird of three states: Iowa, New Jersey and Washington.
The American Goldfinch is a delicate little bird and the males have a striking yellow body, black wings and a black cap. Many times they can be heard as
they fly overhead in small flocks. When they fly, they appear to be bouncing and almost always seem to use the "potato chip" call as they communitcate with
other members of the group.
American Ornithologists' Union Common Name: American Goldfinch
Diet: Insects, seeds of deciduous trees, forbs (especially
composites), grass, floral buds, berries. Young fed regurgitant of
milky seed pulp; few insects.
Voice: Song high, musical, rapidly repeated phrases
toWEE toWEE toWeeto tweer tweer tweer ti ti ti ti. Call a thin,
wiry toweeeowee or tweee; also a soft tihoo
and variations. Flight call a soft, whistled, descending series ti
di di di, which has the same rhythm as saying "potato chip"
Habitat: Weedy fields, open second-growth
woodlands, roadsides, especially in thistles, sunflowers.
Displays: Male song-flight on level (rather than
typical undulating) flight, rapidly flapping wings.
Number of broods: 1, occasionally 2
Nest: In branch fork, often woven so tightly that
nest holds water; of forbs, other pliable vegetation, lined with plant
down. Caterpillar webbing and spider silk often used to bind outer rim.
Eggs: Averages 4-6 pale blue or bluish-white,
unmarked eggs. 0.6" (16 mm).
Incubation period: 10-12 days
Fledge: 11-17 days after hatching
Longevity Record: 10 Years and 9 months - This new record was set in 2013 by a banded bird that was recaptured and released in Maryland
- (data from the USGS Bird Banding Lab).
In 1928, legislators let school children select the state bird and the meadowlark won hands-down. It was a nice choice but seven other states already had
chosen the same bird.
A new vote was taken in 1931 by the Washington Federation of Women's Clubs. Many birds were nominated, but the goldfinch won out over the tanager,
Song Sparrow, junco and Pileated Woodpecker. Two other States had already selected American Goldfinch as their State Bird, so the State Legislature decided
to leave the final choice to school children. In 1951, children voted for the goldfinch and the Legislature made it unanimous, the "Willow Goldfinch" as they
called it, was the official Washington State Bird.