Levine (1998, pp.571-572) notes that, in New York state, the American goldfinch may be both sedentary and migratory. The goldfinch is the latest breeding bird in the state, usually late June to late September, perhaps a strategy to minimize the effect of that brood parasite, the brown-headed cowbird. Nesting may also correlate with the development of thistles, used for both food and nesting material.
In the greater Kingston region (Weir, 1989, pp.482-483) the goldfinch has been a common resident and seasonal migrant since at least the 19th century. Human activity, such as splitting up unbroken forest, generating open fields, and, in time, the installation of winter birdfeeders, seems to have helped the species. As in New York, it is the latest of nesting birds, in company with the cedar waxwing. Autumn migration runs from late August to mid-November, and is heaviest in September and October.
The goldfinch is common across much of Ontario (and much of North America), and Ontario numbers have risen in the 20th century (Cadman et al., 1987, pp.500-501; 2007, pp.623-625). The fields, woodland margins and hedgerows of our district are conducive to its presence.
These brightly-coloured, distinctive birds may be seen
on any date, with a slight but notable peak in May
(despite absence of the observer for much of April-May, 2016-2019).
It is common from mid-May to early October,
and an irregular winter presence, at
provincial park, some
40 km to the south,
where up to 100 birds may be seen daily in May
(LaForest, 1993, p.388).
In the Kawarthas, the goldfinch nests very late, usually August-September
(Sadler, 1983, p.165).
Cadman,MD, Eagles,PFJ and Helleiner,FM (1987) Atlas of the Breeding Birds of Ontario. Federation of Ontario Naturalists and Long Point Bird Observatory, published by University of Waterloo Press, 617pp.
Cadman,MD, Sutherland,DA, Beck,GG, Lepage,D and Couturier,AR (editors) (2007) Atlas of the Breeding Birds of Ontario, 2001-2005. Bird Studies Canada,Environment Canada,Ontario Field Ornithologists, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, and Ontario Nature, 706pp.
LaForest,SM (1993) Birds of Presqu'ile Provincial Park. Friends of Presqu'ile Park / Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, 436pp.
Levine,E (editor) (1998) Bull's Birds of New York State. Comstock Publishing Associates, Cornell University Press, revised version, 622pp.
Sadler,D (1983) Our Heritage of Birds: Peterborough County in the Kawarthas. Peterborough Field Naturalists / Orchid Press, Peterborough, ON, 192pp.
Weir,RD (1989) Birds of the Kingston Area. Quarry Press, 608pp. plus map.