American goldfinches are most confusing in winter when they are totally without their bright breeding colors. Both males and females look similar in winter, with these field marks…
- Head: The head is a warm tan color that may show a yellow or gray wash, though the extent of the color varies widely.
- Bill: The bill remains sharply pointed in winter but turns a dull dark gray or black.
- Throat: Winter American goldfinches have varying amounts of yellow on their throat, though the color is usually dull and can be hard to see. A brighter finch may have more yellow extending onto the upper breast or to the cheeks.
- Wings: In winter, the black wings contrast less with the dull body but still show one wide white wing bar, no matter which gender the bird may be.
- Plumage: The overall coloration of winter American goldfinches is a dull tan with a warm brown or yellow wash. The underparts are slightly paler than the upperparts.
- Legs and Feet: Even in winter, the legs and feet of these goldfinches remain pale.
Photo – American Goldfinch in Winter © Putneypics