Goldfinches are easily identified by their striking colours; red, black and white on the head and black and gold in the wings. Juvenile birds have a streaked brown head but the broad gold stripe through the black wings is already obvious. The wing pattern is so vivid that many birdwatchers don't realise that the Goldfinch has a white rump.
Breeds and winters wherever there are weeds, especially thistles, on wasteground, hedgerows and areas of scrub.
In recent years Goldfinches have started to visit gardens to feed on peanuts and bird seed. This may encourage a greater proportion to stay in Britain in winter.
Most of those which breed in northern Europe migrate to winter around the Mediterranean. In Britain, the Goldfinch is a partial migrant, with some birds, mainly males, staying here in winter but others migrate in September and October to winter in Belgium, France and Spain. Females usually migrate more readily and for greater distances than males.
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