WatchList Species Account for Lawrence’s Goldfinch
(Carduelis lawrencei)

Qualifies for the list as a Declining Yellow List Species


Lawrence's Goldfinch by Ashok Khosla

Photo: © Ashok Khosla

As a breeding bird, the Lawrence’s Goldfinch is found only in the arid and open woodlands of the foothills of California and northern Baja California. This gregarious species winters in the southern part of this range and in southern Arizona, southwestern New Mexico, and adjoining northern Mexico, but in some years may erupt to western Texas. In year-to-year movements it is erratic, sometimes common in a certain area one year and totally absent the next; this may be related to the availability of preferred seed crops and standing water in streams, small lakes, and farm ponds. It seems to prefer the seeds of native plants.


Parasitism by cowbirds is rare, perhaps because of the lack of insects in its diet. The bird has probably benefited from grazing, non-intensive agriculture, and disturbance, all of which have resulted in an increase in its food plants. This has expanded its range and perhaps its numbers, though much of its range is under pressure from an increasing human population.


Though breeding bird censuses showed an inconclusive downward trend from 1966 to 1993, populations are difficult to estimate because of its erratic movements. Because its overall numbers are low, it could be vulnerable to loss of its habitat and loss of the current disturbance regime.