This handsome bird is mostly grayish. Adult male has a black face, yellow breast, and large yellow patches in the wings and on the rump. Female has an all-gray head and less yellow elsewhere. In flight, both sexes show white under-wing linings and a yellow rump. Lawrence’s goldfinch is 4 ¾ inches in length.
Lawrence’s goldfinch has one of the more interesting finch songs, a long melody of musical phrases, most of which are imitations of other birds’ songs. Call is a slightly harsh, rising too-vreee!
Flocks of goldfinches in the desert Southwest may include this species. It’s worth carefully sorting through these flocks. It is uncommon to see them in mixed oak-pine woods, chaparral, and weedy areas usually near water. Found almost exclusively in California, except in the winter when flocks may range farther to the east, though never leaving the southwestern desert. Lawrence’s goldfinches form large flocks in the winter and small feeding groups during the nesting season.
A Lawrence’s goldfinch munches on seeds and occasionally fruit pulp. They forage near water in weedy areas and may even visit an artificial feeder.
The female Lawrence’s goldfinch leads exploration for potential nesting sites while the male follows closely behind singing. Similar to the lesser goldfinch, Lawrence’s goldfinch situates its nest in a fork of branches but they like drooping, outer branches. The nest is a loosely woven cup composed of leaves, grasses, and even the occasional flower bud or blossom while lined with plant fibers, feathers, flowers, fur, or lichen. Clutch sizes range from three to six eggs, which the female incubates constantly for 12 to 13 days. Young Lawrence’s goldfinches fledge after two weeks but remain close to the nest and fed via regurgitation method by parents.
This uncommon species can often be found near sources of water in remote arid areas.