Himalayan Goldfinches

The Himalayan Goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis caniceps) is a sub-species of the European Goldfinch (Carduelis cHimalayan Goldfincharduelis carduelis). These two groups merge at their boundary, so the caniceps group is not recognized as a distinct species despite the readily distinguishable plumage.

The Himalayan Goldfinch is also often referred to as the Gray-crowned Goldfinch, Grey-crowned Goldfinch or simply Goldfinch.


It it split into three races:

  • Carduelis carduelis caniceps, Southern central Asia

  • Carduelis carduelis paropanisi, Afghanistan to western Himalaya and Tien Shan

  • Carduelis carduelis subulata, South-central Siberia

Distribution / Range

The Himalayan Goldfinch is endemic to western and northern Pakistan, northwest Himalayas to central Nepal and southwest Xisang.


Goldfinch distribution mapDescription

The Himalayan Goldfinch is a small finch, averaging 12-13.5 cm (4-5 inches) in length and weighing around 16 to 22 grams.

The crown to mantle, back and scapulars (shoulder feathers) are grey. It lacks white sides to the crown and face. The outer webs of tertials (= the flight feathers that are closest to the bird's body along the wing) are broadly white.

Both sexes look alike alike.

Similar Species: The Himalayan Goldfinch looks like European Goldfinch, except it lacks the black markings and tawny plumage of the nominate European Goldfinch. Please refer to the below images.

Goldfinch sub-species comparison

Grey-ground Goldfinches (aka Himalayan Goldfinch)Calls / Vocalization

Their song is a melodic rapid tinkling 'tsswit-witt-witt' repeated with various twittering, buzzing 'zee-zee' notes added, creating a fast and liquid canary-like song. Their call is a shrill or ringing 'pee-uu' or 'tsee-yu' - occasionally followed by a twittering note.



A good Goldfinch diet must include a mixture of millets, cereal seeds, canary grass seeds, green food and live food. Sprouting seed is the simplest way to provide your birds with fresh greens and make a great weaning food. These birds are especially fond of Safflower, and Thistle.

Sprouted or germinated seeds are usually more easily accepted by "seed addicts" than fresh fruits and vegetables.

  • Sprouted seeds are healthier as the sprouting changes and enhances the nutritional quality and value of seeds and grains. Sprouted seeds are lower in fat, as the process of sprouting utilizes the fat in the seed to start the growing process - thus reducing the fat stored in the seeds.
  • Sprouted seeds will help balance your bird’s diet by adding a nutritious supply of high in vegetable proteins, vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and chlorophyll.
  • Soaked and germinated "oil" seeds, like niger and rape seeds, are rich in protein and carbohydrates; while "starch" seeds, such as canary and millets, are rich in carbohydrates, but lower in protein.
  • It is an invaluable food at all times; however, it is especially important for breeding or molting birds. Sprouted seeds also serve as a great rearing and weaning food as the softened shell is easier to break by chicks and gets them used to the texture of seeds.

They will require more green food when breeding. While they are not as insectivorous as some birds they do enjoy live food. Ant eggs, small mealworms, waxworms and fruit fly larva can be mixed in with soft food and offered daily. Fresh water, cuttlebone and grit should also be supplied at all times. Lettuce, Spinach, Chickweed, spray millet, Eggfood, Brocolli tops and Carrot tops can also be offered on a regular basis.



Goldfinches can be kept in a mixed aviary with birds of similar size or in individual pairs.



Many Goldfinches are house in individual breeding cages much like Canaries. However, they will thrive in a large planted aviary with plenty of room to fly and sing. These birds are quite acrobatic and can be seen hanging upside down on perches and twirling off one perch to another.


Species Research by Sibylle Johnson

Please Note: The articles or images on this page are the sole property of the authors or photographers. Please contact them directly with respect to any copyright or licensing questions. Thank you.