American Goldfinch is a small yellow bird with a conical bill.
Breeding males are usually entirely yellow except for the black wings and a black forehead, while females share the same qualities, only with paler colors.
In this article, we’ll be looking at birds similar to goldfinch.
- Lesser Goldfinches
- Lawrence’s Goldfinches
- Pine Siskins
- Evening Grosbeaks
- Western Tanagers
- Pine Warblers
- Yellow-breasted Chats
- Yellow Orioles
- Wilson’s Warblers
1. Lesser Goldfinches
Scientific name: Spinus psaltria
Even though both species share the yellow belly, lesser goldfinches have a darker back and a black crown, so it’s easy to tell them apart.
Additionally, they don’t share the same territory as the lesser goldfinches don’t occur more northern than the state of Washington or more eastern than Texas.
On the other hand, American Goldfinches occur as north as Canada and sometimes on the eastern shore of Mexico, while the lesser variations of goldfinches are found all over Central America, and even parts of South America.
2. Lawrence’s Goldfinches
Scientific name: Spinus psaltria
These small birds have black faces and yellow patches on their wings and on their neck, but aside from that, they’re entirely gray. American goldfinches have a yellow neck and backs, so they’re easy to tell apart.
They also have the smallest territory out of all goldfinches – they only occur in parts of northern Mexico, California, Arizona, and New Mexico. Lawrence’s goldfinches are quite nomadic and they can be difficult to locate.
3. Pine Siskins
Scientific name: Spinus pinus
Pine siskins occupy much of the same territory as the American goldfinch, with the exception being Alaska and northern Canadian territories. However, they’re usually easy to tell from American goldfinches.
Pine siskins are mostly grey, while some subspecies develop yellow coloring on their wings. People often mistake one for another because they’re almost identical in size and wingspan.
4. Evening Grosbeaks
Scientific name: Coccothraustes vespertinus
This bird, similar to goldfinch but bigger, is found in all of the USA (except for Hawaii and Alaska) and they’re noticeably similar to goldfinches.
The males are characteristically yellow on their bellies and they have black wings, but they also have a white patch on their wings and a grey neck – something that the goldfinch doesn’t have.
Also, they’re obviously larger than goldfinches. Evening grosbeaks are usually found in forests where they nest in trees and feed on seeds. Unfortunately, their current population is declining.
5. Western Tanagers
Scientific name: Piranga ludoviciana
Western tanagers share a few physical similarities with American goldfinches, but they’re completely different in all other aspects. These birds also have yellow bellies and necks with black wings, but their heads are orange, even red.
Additionally, they’re only found in the western half of Canada and the USA, while they inhabit a large portion of Mexico. Unlike goldfinches, these birds are similar to goldfinches but with red heads and feed on insects.
6. Pine Warblers
Scientific name: Setophaga pinus
Pine warblers are only found in the eastern half of the United States, where they are often mistaken for goldfinches. Warblers are mostly yellow, except for their grey-black wings and almost white backside.
Additionally, they’re much rounder than goldfinches, while their beak is entirely black, opposite to the goldfinch’s orange beak.
7. Yellow-breasted Chat
Scientific name: Icteria virens
As the name suggests, the yellow-breasted chat has a distinctly yellow chest. However, the rest of the body, including the head, is off-grey, while the beak is black, which makes it easy to differentiate them from goldfinches.
These chats are spread all throughout Mexico and most of the USA, barring a few northernmost states with very cold climates. Unlike goldfinches, they feed on insects and live in scrubs.
8. Yellow Orioles
Scientific name: Icterus nigrogularis
Yellow orioles are found in the most northern parts of South America – Venezuela, Colombia, Trinidad, and parts of Brazil. There, they usually inhabit scrubs and open woodlands.
These birds are also mostly yellow, but they have a distinct black patch on their neck and a black beak. They are also much, much bigger than goldfinches – orioles are about 8 inches long, while the goldfinch is rarely longer than 5.5 inches.
9. Wilson’s Warblers
Scientific name: Cardellina pusilla
This bird similar to goldfinch shares much of the same territory – parts of Canada, Mexico, and the USA. However, they’re much smaller than the goldfinch, despite their physical similarities.
These warblers are confused for goldfinches because they’re entirely yellow and they have a black crown – which is mistaken for the goldfinch’s black forehead. However, their wings are dark yellow, rarely black, while their beak is also black.
Even though the goldfinch shares some similarities with each one of these species, there is always at least one thing setting them apart. While confusions are common in birdwatching, most birds can be told apart if you focus on individual parts of their body.
Additionally, they don’t share their entire territory with these birds, and it’s easy to tell birds apart by their territory.