The yellow finch, or Spinus tristis, is also known as the American goldfinch because this bright yellow and black-trimmed bird is found in North America. Like most finches, it prefers open spaces over the heavily wooded forest, but makes its home wherever temperatures are amenable and food is readily available.
Yellow finches adapt to and survive in a wide variety of habitats, from populous cities to the isolated high desert, but they do have a specific habitat they prefer over all others. This preferred habitat consists of meadows, fields and weedy lots, where there is little tall growth but plenty of lower growing cover. Finches like it even better if there are plenty of plants with the small seeds that they love to eat, such as aster, sunflower, dandelion and especially thistle.
Depending on the time of year, the yellow finch can be found throughout North America, from Saskatchewan, Quebec, in the north to the Gulf Coast of Mexico in the south. In places where the temperature drops below zero degrees Fahrenheit, these birds migrate south to find warmer weather, often in southern California, Florida and Mexico, where they live during the winter. They remain year-round in more temperate climates, such as the Pacific Northwest and midwestern United States.
A breeding pair of yellow finches often selects a nesting site near the edge of their habitat in a tall tree or bush. The male and the female work together to select the site. The nest itself is built in the junction of several branches and is lined with soft, downy material that they find within their habitat, such as ripe dandelion and thistle heads.
Most yellow finches will not nest in a bird house, but may use a basket-style house with a fairly open top as a base for building a nest. They will also sometimes use a regular bird house for temporary shelter. The house or basket should be fairly small, with approximate dimensions of 6 inches wide, 12 1/2 inches tall and 8 1/2 inches deep. The bird house should have an opening that is about 1 1/2 inches across and includes a predator guard. Place the house or basket at least 8 feet off the ground in a tree with plenty of open space around it.