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Montana, USA - American or Lesser Goldfinch?

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Old Wednesday 31st August 2016, 17:48   #1
janinmt
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Montana, USA - American or Lesser Goldfinch?

Can you tell from these poor photos? Taken this morning, 8/31/16, at Shiloh Conservation Area in Billings, Montana, USA.

Thanks!

Jan in MT
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Old Wednesday 31st August 2016, 18:00   #2
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White under-tail coverts, so American (yellow there as well as breast & belly in Lesser).

Also Lesser doesn't occur in Montana, only north to southernmost WY & ID.
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Old Wednesday 31st August 2016, 18:13   #3
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Thanks, Nutcracker. I hadn't considered the undertail coverts. American Goldfinch is the expected species, but Lesser Goldfinch has been showing up regularly all over Montana, including in the Billings area. It was reported (with good photos!) on eBird last week. So I am now looking over the goldfinch flocks with closer attention. This one had a darker beak, a darker olive-greenish back and weak wingbars, so it seemed a contender. But I wasn't convinced, and it took off before I got decent photos.

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Old Wednesday 31st August 2016, 19:41   #4
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Interesting to know they're spreading! I saw the beak was dark (so did think it could be Lesser on first look), but the beak can be dark on American as well, with the undertail being the more solid distinction. Good luck finding some Lessers!
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