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House Finches are a popular and commonly spotted bird throughout much of North America. They are especially fond of cities, towns, and suburbs where they can regularly be seen eating from feeders and bathing in birdbaths. They are an abundant species and feed primarily on plant-based foods, although they will take in a small number of insects.
The male is recognized by its colored belly, head, and neck, while the female tends to consist of shades of brown. The color of the male’s plumage is determined by the bird’s diet and can vary from yellow to red.
|Habitat||Buildings, lawns, towns|
|Diet||Weeds, seeds, berries, some Insects|
|Behavior||Not territorial, may flock together|
|Nesting||Nest in trees and rock ledges|
|Scientific name||Haemorhous mexicanus|
The House Finch is a small finch with a flat head and larger beak. They will grow to approximately 5 inches and weigh less than an ounce. Their wingspan is around 9 inches. The House Finch has short wings and a long tail.
Immature birds and females are brown, ranging from light brown to almost black. Males have a brown back and colored belly, neck, and head. The color does vary according to the bird’s diet, with a carotenoid-rich diet typically leading to red plumage. Other males can have yellow plumage.
The House Finch has become prevalent across the US over the past 70 years. In the east, it competes with the Purple Finch, for which it can be easily confused, for food and habitat.
The House Finch originates from the southwest, but it has spread right across North America, especially in the 1940s. At this time, New York pet shop owners who had been selling the birds illegally were forced to set their birds free to avoid being caught and prosecuted. The birds settled in New York’s suburbs and, as numbers have increased, so too has their habitat.
In its original habitat, the House Finch enjoys open plains, deserts, and other open areas of land. However, it has adapted according to the region it inhabits. In the east, it lives in and very close to urban areas and is especially fond of feeders and feeding stations as a source of food. Some finches from the north do migrate further south for winter, but this isn’t true of all of them, and they are often seen year-round at feeders.
The House Finch is not an especially aggressive or territorial bird and spotters frequently see flocks of the species together. The female tends to be dominant over the male and all are more active during the day than at night.
The majority of the House Finch’s diet is plant and vegetable based. They eat weed seeds as well as the buds and flowers of plants. They also eat some berries and a small number of insects.
During the breeding season, the male performs a flight and song display and feeds the female during courtship. They will nest in trees, primarily conifers, but may also be found in ivy, cactus, and in buildings. They can be attracted to homemade bird boxes, and they prefer a nesting site about 12 feet off the ground.
With the species prevalent across much of the country and happy to spend time in urban and suburban areas, it is popular with amateur and experienced spotters.
Males are more likely to sing, although females will sing in the spring, too. Both have a long song that is made up of a series of short notes. It will usually last 2–3 seconds and end on a high or low note.
The House Finch is approximately the same size as a sparrow. They have small heads and large beaks. Their short wings can make their tails appear longer. The female is a somewhat plain brown while the male has a brown back and wings with either a yellow or red belly, neck, and head. Young House Finches have the same markings as adult females but are smaller.
In most cases, House Finches can be seen all year round, although some of the northern populations do migrate south during the winter. They are active during the day rather than at night, so there is a good chance that a keen-eyed spotter will see at least one of these birds.
The House Finch is a sweet and attractive little bird that can be very easy to attract to an outdoor feeder. Try these tips to increase the chances of a visit to your yard.
The House Finch is classified as of least concern, which means that there are no current concerns over its population. In fact, the species has spread across the country and in some areas, primarily the east, it is threatening the Purple Finch’s population. The reason it does not seem to be under threat is that it will live alongside people in urban and suburban areas.
The House Finch is a small finch that can be found throughout North America. It is not under conservation threat and is actually considered something of a threat to other species in some areas. However, it is an attractive bird, especially the male’s red or yellow plumage, and it is easy to attract to a garden feeder, making it popular with novice bird watchers. If you want to attract the House Finch, add a safe tube feeder, fill it with black oil sunflower seeds, and accompany it with a birdbath.
Featured Image Credit: rck_953, Shutterstock
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Robert’s obsession with all things optical started early in life, when his optician father would bring home prototypes for Robert to play with. Nowadays, Robert is dedicated to helping others find the right optics for their needs. His hobbies include astronomy, astrophysics, and model building. Originally from Newark, NJ, he resides in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where the nighttime skies are filled with glittering stars.
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