Lawrence’s Goldfinch

Lawrence’s goldfinch (Spinus lawrencei) is a small songbird in the finch family Fringillidae. It has erratic distribution, breeding in California and Baja California and wintering in the southwestern United States and northern Mexico. It breeds from about Shasta County, California to northern Baja California, largely in the Coast Ranges and the foothills of the Sierra Nevada and in the Baja highlands, but also sometimes as far down as the coast; its highest breeding altitude is about 8,800 ft (2,700 m) on Mount Pinos.

The typical nesting habitat is dry and open woods that are near both brushy areas and fields of tall annual weeds, usually within 0.5 mi (0.80 km) of a small body of water. It may nest in other habitats, including rural residential areas, but not in deserts or dense forests. Outside the nesting season it occurs in many open habitats including deserts, suburbs, and city parks.

Lawrence’s goldfinch feeds almost entirely on seeds of shrubs and forbs. During the nesting season, it eats seeds of annuals, strongly favoring the common fiddleneck. At other seasons in California, it predominantly eats chamise achenes and also berries of mistletoe (Phoradendron) and California Buckthorn. In Arizona, it often eats the seeds of amaranths and inkweed.

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