Earlier this year, I posted about a paper I wrote summarizing sightings of European Goldfinches (Carduelis carduelis) in the Midwest. A population is apparently established in northeastern Illinois and southeastern Wisconsin.
I just received a report from a resident of Waukegan, IL, about 10 miles from the Wisconsin border. She hosted four adult European Goldfinches last year, and up to eight this spring. On 20 June, she reported an adult with two youngsters in her yard. On 22 June, she saw four young with two adults, and sent these photos.
I've had a handful of reports of nesting European Goldfinches from Illinois or Wisconsin since 2003, but only two with photo documentation. This Waukegan report is the most detailed and the first definitive report away from the "epicenter" of sightings in McHenry Co., IL, which is about 40 miles west of Waukegan.
As they do in their native range, European Goldfinch nest in May and June, which is earlier than American Goldfinch. However, in Europe and Asia, they raise two broods, sometimes three, so nesting in the two species here in North America could overlap.
As you can see, the juveniles are superficially like dull or female American Goldfinch, but any good look will reveal the jet black wings with large yellow wing patches. Young European Goldfinch lack the red on the face and the head pattern of the adults. The Waukegan host will be watching to see when the young birds acquire the red faces of adults, (should they continue to come to her feeders) which I expect to happen sometime in the fall.
I welcome further reports of nesting European Goldfinches!
See also this update from July 2009.
Photos copyright E. Powell. Used with permission.