Backyard Birds

Himalayan Goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis caniceps)

The Himalayan Goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis caniceps) is a sub-species of the European Goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis 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 map


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.


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.

Further Finch Reading


Gordon Ramel

Gordon is an ecologist with two degrees from Exeter University. He's also a teacher, a poet and the owner of 1,152 books. Oh - and he wrote this website.

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