|Conservation status||Widespread and abundant. Local numbers are quite variable. Surveys suggest slight declines in overall population in recent decades.|
|Habitat||Conifers, mixed woods, alders, weedy areas. Breeds mostly in coniferous and mixed woods, often around edges or clearings; sometimes in deciduous woods, isolated conifer groves. In migration and winter occurs in many kinds of semi-open areas, woodland edges, weedy fields.|
Forages actively in trees, shrubs, and weeds, sometimes hanging upside down to reach seeds. Usually forages in flocks (even during nesting season), often associated with goldfinches in winter.
3-4, sometimes 2-5. Pale greenish blue, with brown and black dots often concentrated at larger end. Incubation is by female, about 13 days. Male feeds female during incubation. Young: After eggs hatch, female may spend most of time brooding young at first, while male brings food; later, both feed nestlings. Young leave nest about 14-15 days after hatching.
After eggs hatch, female may spend most of time brooding young at first, while male brings food; later, both feed nestlings. Young leave nest about 14-15 days after hatching.
Mostly seeds and other vegetable matter, some insects. Feeds on seeds of alder, birch, spruce, and many other trees, also those of weeds and grasses; eats buds, flower parts, nectar, young shoots. Also feeds on insects, including caterpillars and aphids. May be attracted to salt.
Breeding range often changes from year to year. May nest in loose colonies or in isolated pairs. Courtship and formation of pairs may begin in winter flocks; male displays by flying in circle above female, with wings and tail spread widely, while singing. Male often feeds female during courtship. Nest site is well hidden in tree (usually in conifer), on horizontal branch well out from trunk. Typically 10-40' above ground, can be lower or higher. Nest (built by female) is a rather large but shallow open cup of twigs, grass, strips of bark, rootlets, lined with moss, animal hair, feathers.
Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds
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Very erratic in its winter occurrence, coming south in huge numbers some years, very scarce in others. After big invasion winters, a few may remain to nest south of normal range. Migrates by day, in flocks.
- All Seasons - Common
- All Seasons - Uncommon
- Breeding - Common
- Breeding - Uncommon
- Winter - Common
- Winter - Uncommon
- Migration - Common
- Migration - Uncommon
See a fully interactive migration map for this species on the Bird Migration Explorer.Learn more
Songs and CallsDistinctive rising, bzzzzzt. Song like a hoarse goldfinch.
Learn more about this sound collection.