The New Jersey State Bird – Everything You Should Know About The American Goldfinch

What is the New Jersey state bird?

Many states have a state animal, a state motto, and a state bird. New Jersey is one of three states that boast the Eastern Goldfinch as its state bird.

Below you’ll find everything that you need to know about the New Jersey State bird. Beyond that, you’ll learn more about other symbols that stand for New Jersey.

American Goldfinch Fun Facts

The American Goldfinch, also known as the Eastern Goldfinch, was adopted as the New Jersey state bird in 1935.

In addition to being called the American Goldfinch and the Eastern Goldfinch, the New Jersey State Bird goes by other names, too

Some people call the Eastern Goldfinch by its scientific name, which is the eastern goldfinch carduelis tristis.

Others know the New Jersey state bird as the willow goldfinch or the wild canary.

Quick Stats:

Scientific NameSpinus tristis
Common NameAmerican Goldfinch
Size4.3 – 5.5 inches
Weight0.39 – 0.71 ounces
Wingspan7.5 – 8.7 inches
HabitatFields, meadows, gardens, and orchards
DietPrimarily seeds (thistle, sunflower, and dandelion), insects during breeding season
Conservation StatusLeast Concern
Distinctive FeaturesBright yellow plumage with black cap (males during breeding season), undulating flight pattern, sweet twittering call

States With The American Goldfinch As It’s State Bird

As previously mentioned, New Jersey is one of three states that has named the American Goldfinch as its official state bird.

The Eastern Goldfinch Carduelis Tristis is the official state bird of Washington, as well as Iowa.


The male eastern goldfinch carduelis tristis is a bright yellow bird with black wings, a black tail, a black forehead, and white markings on and under the wings.

The female eastern goldfinch Carduelis tristis is not nearly as bright as its male counterpart.

The females tend to be more of drab olive-yellow color, with black and white striped wings and tail.

In the winter and non-breeding months, the male eastern goldfinch will molt and change colors, which makes them harder to distinguish from the females.

The male and female eastern goldfinch grow to be anywhere between four and five inches in length.


When nesting, the females typically lay between four and six eggs. Occasionally, the female carduelis tristis can lay as few as two or as many as seven eggs.

Once the goldfinch carduelis nestlings hatch, both the male and female parents work to feed the baby birds.

The young bird leaves the nest between two to three weeks after they have hatched.

Unfortunately, climate change has affected the goldfinch carduelis tristis’ habitat.

These birds have been moving further and further north.


Heatwaves in the spring and summer can cause a decrease in the number of young produced. Severe wind and rainstorms are also harmful to this popular state bird.

Out of the three states that the New Jersey state bird calls home, Washington state is the only state where the bird is thriving.

In fact, the state bird of Washington is the only state where this particular state bird population is improving.

Why is the American Goldfinch the State Bird for New Jersey?

The designation of the American Goldfinch as the state bird for New Jersey was made in 1935.

It was chosen by the state legislature because of the bird’s bright and cheerful appearance, as well as its prevalence in the state.

Year Designated1935
Reason for DesignationBright and cheerful appearance, prevalence throughout the state
Physical DescriptionSmall bird, 4.3 – 5.5 inches in size, bright yellow feathers, black cap on head (males during breeding season), undulating flight pattern, sweet twittering call
RangeFound throughout New Jersey
HabitatFields, meadows, gardens, and orchards
DietPrimarily seeds (thistle, sunflower, and dandelion), insects during breeding season
SymbolismRepresents the natural beauty and diversity of the state
Conservation StatusLeast Concern

The American Goldfinch is found throughout New Jersey, and its presence is often associated with the arrival of spring.

When Did the American Goldfinch Become the State Bird for New Jersey?

The American Goldfinch became the state bird for New Jersey on June 8, 1935, when Governor A. Harry Moore signed it into law.

The designation was made as a result of a contest sponsored by the New Jersey Audubon Society to determine the most popular bird among the state’s residents.

What Does the State Bird of New Jersey Look Like?

The American Goldfinch is a small bird, about the size of a sparrow, and it’s easily recognizable by its bright yellow feathers.

During the breeding season, male American Goldfinches have a striking black cap on their heads, while the females have a more subdued brownish color.

In winter, the male’s black cap fades to a duller color.

The American Goldfinch is also known for its distinctive flight pattern, with its undulating flight and sweet, twittering call.

What Do American Goldfinches Eat?

American Goldfinches are primarily granivorous, meaning they eat seeds.

They have a unique digestive system that allows them to consume a wide variety of seeds, including thistle, sunflower, and dandelion seeds.

Primary DietSeeds, particularly those of thistle, sunflower, and dandelion
Digestive SystemUnique digestive system allows them to extract nutrients from seeds
Feeding HabitsOften eat while hanging upside down from seed heads
Breeding Season DietAlso eat insects to provide extra protein for their young
Food PreferencesHave a preference for thistle seeds
Other FoodsOccasionally eat berries and fruits
Drinking HabitsCan obtain necessary moisture from the sap of trees and from dew on plants

They have a preference for thistle seeds, which they can eat while hanging upside down from the plant.

In addition to seeds, they also eat insects during the breeding season to provide extra protein for their young.

Beyond The American Goldfinch

The state of New Jersey doesn’t just boast a beautiful yellow bird as its state bird. It also has a bright yellow state flag.

The New Jersey state flag features the New Jersey state coat of arms.

Symbols on the NJ flag include plows, a helmet and shield, horse head crest, two females, and a banner. Each of these symbols has a very specific meaning and reason for being on the flag of New Jersey.

  • Three plows represent the strong agricultural industry of the community.
  • A forward-facing helmet above a blue shield stands for sovereignty.
  • The horse head crest is a nod to the official New Jersey state animal, the horse.
  • On either side of the shield are two females. Liberty and Ceres. Ceres is a symbol that denotes agricultural abundance, specifically for grain. Liberty holds produce.
  • All of these symbols sit atop a banner that reads the New Jersey State motto, “Liberty and Prosperity.” The banner also reads 1776, which is the year that New Jersey became the third state added to the United States.

New Jersey State Symbols

To recap, the New Jersey state bird is the American Goldfinch and is also known as the eastern carduelis tristis.

The flag features five main symbols. These symbols include the state animal, a horse, a helmet and shield, two females, all pictured above a banner.

Additionally, the flag for New Jersey reads “Liberty and Prosperity.”

You may know that the state of New Jersey is known as the “Garden State,” but the state motto has more to do with agriculture than what we think of in terms of modern-day gardening.

The motto for New Jersey state is “Liberty and Prosperity.” The New Jersey state motto was added in 1777, just one year after New Jersey gained statehood.


What is NJ state flower and bird?

The state flower of New Jersey is the Common Meadow Violet (Viola sororia), while the state bird is the American Goldfinch (Spinus tristis).

Why is the goldfinch New Jersey state bird?

The American Goldfinch was designated as the state bird of New Jersey in 1935 due to its bright and cheerful appearance, as well as its prevalence throughout the state.

What is NJ state animal?

New Jersey does not have an official state animal. However, the white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) is commonly associated with the state and is a frequent sight in its forests and parks.

What is the NJ state bird female?

The female American Goldfinch has a more subdued brownish color than the male. During the breeding season, the male American Goldfinch has a striking black cap on its head, while the female has a lighter cap.

What is the New York state bird?

The state bird of New York is the Eastern Bluebird (Sialia sialis). The bird is known for its beautiful blue color and melodious song. It was designated as the state bird of New York in 1970.

Julian Goldie - Owner of

Julian Goldie

I'm a bird enthusiast and creator of Chipper Birds, a blog sharing my experience caring for birds. I've traveled the world bird watching and I'm committed to helping others with bird care. Contact me at [email protected] for assistance.