European Goldfinch Carduelis carduelis


Justification of Red List category
This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is extremely large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.

Population justification
In Europe, the breeding population is estimated to number 27.8-42.7 million pairs, which equates to 55.7-85.5 million mature individuals (BirdLife International 2015). Europe forms c.55% of the global range, so a very preliminary estimate of the global population size is 101-155 million mature individuals, although further validation of this estimate is needed.

Trend justification
In Europe, the population has undergone a moderate increase between 1980 and 2013 (EBCC 2018). However, the species is in rapid decline in North Africa where poaching for the cagebird trade has been increasing rapidly since the 1990s (E. de Juana in litt. 2017, A. Ngari in litt. 2017). By now, the species has disappeared from >50% of its range in North Africa (Khelifa et al. 2017). Therefore globally, the species is assessed as being in decline.

Distribution and population

Carduelis carduelis is widely distributed across Europe and central Asia, from the British Isles, western Europe and the northern tip of Africa through eastern Europe, the Balkans, Turkey and into the Urals, Israel, Azerbaijan and Iran.


This species inhabits open or sparse deciduous woodland and mixed deciduous and conifer woods, forest edges, thickets, heaths, hedgerows, streams, riverine and marshy areas with bushes and trees, roadside verges, steppe grasslands with scattered trees to edges of semi-desert areas, scrub, orchards, edges of cultivation and parks and gardens. Breeding occurs from April to early August. The nest is a compact small cup of grasses, moss, plant fibres and down, cobwebs, animal hair and feathers, a few aromatic flowers on outside, placed up to 10 m from the ground, concealed beneath foliage. Clutches are four to six eggs. It feeds mostly on seeds (ripe and unripe), buds, flowers and the fruits of plants but also takes arthropods. The species is resident, migratory, partially migratory and nomadic (Clement 2016).


The species is caught over most of its range and is popular as a cagebird (Hagemeijer and Blair 1997). Particularly in North Africa, rates of illegal capturing have been increasing drastically since the 1990s; the subsequent decline in population size has led to an increase in market value of the species, which further increased the level of trapping (E. de Juana in litt. 2017, Khelifa et al. 2017). The species is both targeted intentionally or unintentionally captured as by-catch (Khelifa et al. 2017).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway

Bern Convention Appendix II. The decline of commercial bird catching may have been responsible for population increases in Britain, Ireland and Belgium since 1950 (Hagemeijer and Blair 1997).

Conservation Actions Proposed

No conservation measures are currently proposed for this species.


Text account compilers
Derhé, M., Butchart, S., Ekstrom, J., Hermes, C., Ashpole, J

Ngari, A. & de Juana, E.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Species factsheet: Carduelis carduelis. Downloaded from on 09/12/2023.
Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2023) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 09/12/2023.