Description of the House Finch

BREEDING MALE

The House Finch is slightly larger than goldfinches and is streaked with brown on the back and flanks.  Its short, heavy bill has a curved culmen.

Males are rosy red (usually) to yellowish (occasionally) on the head, breast, and rump.

 

House Finch

Female

Females have an all brownish head, with a heavily but somewhat indistinctly streaked breast.

 

House Finch

Seasonal change in appearance

None.

Juvenile

Similar to adults.

Habitat

They occupy farms, canyons, cities, and suburbs.  They have adapted readily to buildings and human habitation.

Diet

House Finches consume mostly vegetable matter, such as seeds and berries.  They will also come to bird feeders for seeds.

Behavior

House Finches forage on the ground or in weed patches, in flocks except during the breeding season.

Range

House Finches were at one time mostly limited to the western U.S. and Mexico. Caged birds released in New York in 1941 prospered and spread west and south to occupy most of the country. Now breeds across nearly the entire U.S. as well as southern Canada. Its population now appears stable in the U.S.

More information:

Bent Life History

Visit the Bent Life History for extensive additional information on the House Finch.

Wing Shape

The shape of a bird's wing is often an indication of its habits and behavior. Fast flying birds have long, pointed wings. Soaring birds have long, broad wings. Different songbirds will have a slightly different wing shape. Some species look so much alike (Empidonax flycatchers) that scientists sometimes use the length of specific feathers to confirm a species' identification.

Male, Sept.; Female, Jan.; Washington

Wing images from the University of Puget Sound, Slater Museum of Natural History

Fun Facts

Unlike most songbirds which feed their young an insect diet, House Finches feed their young regurgitated seeds.

House Finches are particularly susceptible to a bacterial eye disease that can cause blindness, something they can catch at busy bird feeders that aren’t kept clean and occasionally sterilized with bleach solution.

Vocalizations

A pleasant, musical warble.

Nesting

Builds a cup of grasses, weeds, and small twigs in a variety of locations including palm trees, conifers, hanging planters, and holes in buildings.

Number: Usually 4-5 eggs.
Color: Bluish white with dark markings.

Incubation and fledging:

Young hatch at about 13-14 days and fledge at about 14-16 days, though continuing to associate with parents for some time after leaving the nest