[Tweeters] "Willow Goldfinch"

Wayne Weber contopus at telus.net
Wed Sep 25 21:49:02 PDT 2013

Jennifer and Tweeters,

At one time-- up to about 1950-- English names were commonly applied to
subspecies of birds, not just to species. This practice has been largely
abandoned in the last 50 years or so. The Willow Goldfinch is a subspecies
(Carduelis tristis salicamans) of the American Goldfinch.

Ironically, the Willow Goldfinch is found mainly in California and Baja
California, and has never occurred in Washington. The two subspecies of
American Goldfinch that occur in Washington are Carduelis tristis jewetti
and Carduelis tristis pallidus.

So although there is a Willow Goldfinch, it is not found in Washington, and
the use of that term for Washington's state bird is definitely a misnomer!
It would definitely be a good idea to rename the state bird as the "American
Goldfinch", the name which is almost universally used for that species. This
would eliminate the confusion experienced by you and, no doubt, by many
other people.

Wayne C. Weber

Delta, BC

contopus at telus.net

From: tweeters-bounces at mailman1.u.washington.edu
[mailto:tweeters-bounces at mailman1.u.washington.edu] On Behalf Of Jennifer
Sent: September-25-13 8:19 PM
To: tweeters at u.washington.edu
Subject: [Tweeters] "Willow Goldfinch"

Just a quick question here... does anyone know why the state of Washington
refers to its state bird as the "Willow Goldfinch"? Was the American
Goldfinch ever officially called this? Why doesn't the state update its
terminology? I am trying to explain to my son's 5th grade teacher that
there is no such bird as a Willow Goldfinch...


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