The official state bird of the state of Washington is the American goldfinch. The state of Washington picked the American goldfinch as its official state bird in 1951. The selection process was actually quite interesting. The state of Washington first allowed schoolchildren to select the state bird back in 1928.
The meadowlark won that vote among the schoolchildren, but the state of Washington soon held another vote, since seven other states had already chosen the meadowlark as their state bird. The Washington Federation of Women's Clubs voted to choose the American goldfinch as the official state bird in 1931. The Washington state legislature let schoolchildren have the final say in 1951 and this time, they chose the American goldfinch.
The American goldfinch, also known as the willow goldfinch, is quite easy to spot. During the summer, the male goldfinch is a bright yellow color and it becomes more of an olive color during the winter months. In contrast, the female willow goldfinch is a dull yellow-brown color in the winter and becomes a slightly brighter color during the summer. Additionally, during mating season, the male willow goldfinch has brightly colored plumage which helps it attract a female willow goldfinch.
The willow goldfinch also has a conical and small beak, too. The beak is a pink color for most of the year, but it changes to a bright orange color during the goldfinch's spring molt. This change in its beak color happens among both male and female willow goldfinches.
The male willow goldfinch has a black spot on its head, as well. Additionally, the American goldfinch is also one of the smaller goldfinches. It measures between 4.3 and 5.5 inches in length and it has a wingspan of between 7.5 and 8.7 inches.
The American goldfinch is considered granivorous, meaning that it mostly eats seeds. The American goldfinch eats many different types of seeds, from sunflower seeds, thistle seeds, and dandelion seeds to even ragweed seeds. However, the American goldfinch does eat insects on occasion. The American goldfinch also feeds insects to its young to give them some protein.
The American goldfinch does eat more than just that, though. The American goldfinch also eats berries, maple sap, and tree buds. The willow goldfinch is willing to eat at bird feeders and it seems to like eating Niger seeds the most.