About 13 centimetres long, the adult goldfinch has a red face on an otherwise black and white head, jet-black wings with a broad yellow wing-bar, a prominent white rump and a black tail with white spots. The bill is comparatively long and pointed.
The goldfinch is native to Europe, North Africa and Western and Central Asia and only migrates from colder regions. It can be found in low-lying deciduous and mixed woodland, as well as in orchards, parks and gardens.
The goldfinch nests in tree crowns, often among the thinner outer branches. In winter it forms flocks of up to 40. It eats small seeds such as those from thistles, but also eats insects when feeding its young.