3 1/2-4" (9-10 cm). Black or green back, wings, and tail; three white, v-shaped bars on back, white patch on lower wing. Bright yellow underparts. Females and immatures have duller yellow below.
Similar Species- American Goldfinch Lawrence's Goldfinch
Calls a falling teee; song is a jumble of high-pitched twittering notes sometimes including songs of neighboring species.
Resident from southwestern Washington, western Oregon, northeastern California, northern Nevada, northern Utah, and northern Colorado, south to northwestern Oklahoma, north-central and central Texas, Mexico, and northern South America. Mainly migratory in Rocky Mountain region.
Found, in areas where water is available, in partly-open situations with scattered trees, and in woodland edges, second growth, open fields, pastures, and around human habitation.
Thistle and other seeds comprise about 96% of diet. May also take a few insects during breeding season.
Usually nests 0.6-9 m above ground in dense foliage in tree or shrub, often near water. Usually forages on or near ground. Frequently forages in flocks. Species may form loose winter flocks of 20-30 birds that may also include other species of goldfinches and passerines. Lesser Goldfinch is an uncommon breeder in Idaho.
Female incubates 3-6 eggs (usually 4-5), for 12 days. Nestlings are altricial and downy, and are tended by both parents. Breeding pairs may stay together all winter.
Stephens, D.A., C. Webb, and C.H. Trost. 1990. First report of nesting lesser goldfinch in Idaho. Western Birds 21(1): 33-34.