Washington State Bird

Willow Goldfinch (American goldfinch) (Wild Canary)

State Symbol: Washington State Bird - Willow Goldfinch

(Carduelis tristis)

Adopted in 1951.

The goldfinch, (Carduelis tristis,) is a delicate little bird with a yellow body and black wings, and although it eventually became the official state bird in 1951, many other birds were considered for the title. In 1928, legislators let school children select the state bird and the meadowlark won hands-down. It was a nice choice but seven other states already had chosen the same bird. Another vote was taken in 1931 by the Washington Federation of Women's Clubs. Many birds were nominated, but the goldfinch won handily over the tanager, song sparrow, junco and pileated woodpecker. Now there were two state birds and the Legislature decided to leave the final choice to school children. In 1951, children voted for the goldfinch and the Legislature made it unanimous.

Washington State Bird:
Willow Goldfinch (American Goldfinch)

State Symbol: Washington State Bird - Willow Goldfinch

Seeds from dandelions, sunflowers, ragweed, and evening primrose are the main source of food for the Eastern Goldfinch (Carduelis tristis). In late July or early August they build their nests from plant materials and line them with thistledown. The pale blue-white eggs of the Eastern Goldfinch incubate for two weeks and the young birds leave the nest when they are two to three weeks old.

The top of the male's head is topped with black. The bright yellow body has black wings and tail. The female has a dull olive-yellow body with a brown tail and wings. The male goldfinch acquires the same dull plumage in the winter months.

Identification of the Willow Goldfinch (American Goldfinch)

  • Length: 4.25 inches
  • Small, seed-eating bird
  • Short, conical bill
  • Short, forked tail

Male alternate:

  • Plumage held in Spring and Summer
  • Black forehead
  • Yellow head, back, breast and belly
  • Black wings and tail
  • White wing bars and tertial edges
  • White rump and undertail coverts
  • Pale bill and legs

Female alternate:

  • Greenish upperparts
  • Yellow underparts
  • Pale bill and legs


  • Plumage held in Fall and Winter
  • Yellow face
  • Brownish-olive upperparts
  • Whitish underparts
  • Blackish wings with pale wing bars

Revised Code of Washington

The law designating the willow goldfinch as the official Washington state bird is SECTION 1.20.040 (State bird) of the Revised Code of Washington, Title 1 (RCW GENERAL PROVISIONS) Chapter 20 (RWC GENERAL PROVISIONS) Section 1.20.040 (State bird)

SECTION 1.20.040 - State bird.

RCW 1.20.040 State bird.

The willow goldfinch is hereby designated as the official bird of the state of Washington.

[1951 c 249 § 1.]

Taxonomic Hierarchy: Willow Goldfinch (American Goldfinch)

Kingdom: Animalia - animals
Phylum: Chordata - chordates
    Subphylum: Vertebrata - vertebrates
Class: Aves - birds
Order: Passeriformes - perching birds
Family: Fringillidae - buntings, finches, grosbeaks, old world finches, sparrows
Genus: Carduelis Brisson, 1760 - goldfinches
Species: Carduelis tristis (Linnaeus, 1758) - american goldfinch, Jilguero canario

Official State Birds
US map : Birds & Flowers
State Bird:Bird selected (by the legislature) as an emblem of a State.