Its scientific name means: of the (Greek) spinos = bird mentioned by Aristophanes, Dionísio, Hesíquio, and other old but unidentified writers; and of magellanica = referring to the Strait of Magellan in Patagonia. ⇒ Bird of the Strait of Magellan.
It measures 11 inches in length.
This small bird is a very well known bird, since it is a species of relatively easy identification. Its black mask, present only in males, as well as the yellow spots on the wings, make the goldfinch a very colorful bird with an easily recognizable pattern, even in flight. Females have olive head and underside. Young males with a few months already have black spots on their heads. During spring it can be observed singing on top of trees, antennas, poles and roofs. In winter it is often found in flocks of considerable size, which can gather hundreds of birds. In addition to its characteristic singing, perched or in flight, it imitates the singing of other birds.
It has a fine chirp, quite varied, in rapid progress; long stanzas intercalating imitations of other birds. He also sings in flight.
12 subspecies are currently recognized, some of which are quite similar, making recognition difficult in the field.
Spinus magellanica alleni: Known as goldfinch-goianinho in São Paulo. It measures 10 centimeters in length and presents the yellow color of the chest stronger; inhabits the south of Piauí, Tocantins, Goiás and northern Mato Grosso, as well as parts of Bolivia and Paraguay.
Spinus magellanica icterica: Also known as Common Goldfinch, Goldfinch, Goldfinch, Goldfinch. Measures more or less 11.8 centimeters in length, presenting the head and up to the half of the neck totally black, with predominant color in its body the yellow-greenish; inhabits from the south of Bahia, all the southeast of Brazil, including Minas Gerais, to the south to Rio Grande do Sul.
Spinus magellanica magellanica: In Uruguay and Argentina, to Patagonia. Similar to icterica, but is much greener and bigger. Fully white cloaca.
Spinus magellanica longirostris: Roraima, Venezuela and Guianas. Similar in size with the alleni, the beak is much more elongated and thin and the yellow is not so strong.
Spinus magellanica capitalis: It inhabits Peru, Colombia and Ecuador. The male of this subspecies has the upper third of the chest and back darkened, "stained" in black;
Spinus magellanica urubambensis: It inhabits Chile and Peru, most common in Chile. S. magellanica urubambensis is the green subspecies with the darkest black parts. In the white parts of the other subspecies, it has a grayish color.
Spinus magellanica boliviana: Center-south of Bolivia. It stands out because the male possesses a black mask that extends to the chest and beginning of the abdomen and to be of great size.
Spinus magellanica paula: Pacific Coast of Ecuador and Peru. Similar to Peruvian, but smaller and finer beak.
Spinus magellanica peruana: Center of Peru. Similar to paula, but is larger, greener in the upper parts and paler yellow in the rump.
Spinus magellanica sanctaecrucis: Central and eastern Bolivia. Similar to the Bolivian, but a little smaller and with the feathers of the chin and back blackened in the center with the olive green shades clear. Like the Bolivian, the black of the hood is quite extensive and can go almost to the end of the abdomen.
Spinus magellanica tucumana: Argentina from Jujui to Mendoza and in the Sierra de Córdoba. Similar to the Bolivian, but a little smaller, the black of the hood extends only up to the chin and neck, uniformly green upper parts with few dark stripes. Pale lower parts and whitish flanks.