Do you know how House Finches, the bird with red chest, became one of the most common birds in North America? A few birds were released from a pet store in New York, in 1940.
Then on, these birds (only sold as pets then) have expanded their population naturally in the wild and have adjusted to almost all type of climates.
House Finch Male
Location & Range
House Finches are permanent residents of North America, mainly the northern and eastern regions. These birds are widely spread also in parts of Mexico, Canada, and Hawaii. These birds have adjusted to a variety of habitats like deserts, open forests, farms, grasslands, as well as backyards and city parks.
These are mostly resident birds and migrate only short distances if need be. These are highly social birds and are mostly seen in large flocks consisting of hundreds. Also, they are found singing all throughout the year. Their chirp calls sound similar to that of a house sparrow.
These medium-sized finches are 12.5 cm to 15 cm (4.9 to 5.9 in) in length and weigh around 21 g. Adult males have orangey-red color on their heads, necks, and shoulders with brown and white streaked belly and lower parts.
Male House Finch
Their head color may range from yellow to orange and finally to intense red; depending on the pigments in their diet.
An immature male looks similar to a female. Females are over all gray-brown with thick streaks on their lower parts. Both males and females have a brown tail that is notched, just like other finches. These birds have strong, conical, but slightly curved bills.
House Finches are primarily vegetarian. House Finches are one of the rare birds who feed their nestlings mostly plant based foods.
They enjoy thistle, nettle, mustard seeds, dandelion, knotweed, and cactus in the wild. Their diet also includes several fruits like plums, apricots, figs, pears, cherries, blackberries, and strawberries.
At feeders, these birds prefer eating black oil sunflower seeds over others like millet. Occasionally, they are also seen eating small insects like aphids. Parent birds might feed insects to their weak nestlings for supply of extra protein.
During courtship, the male regurgitates his food and feeds the female. The females are seen fluttering their wings and poking the male’s beak, mimicking a hungry chick. The female chooses a male having the brightest red color on his head.
The breeding habitats of House Finches differ from rocky areas, cactus, and buildings to coniferous and deciduous forests. They might even use a vacated nest of another bird.
Their cup-shaped nests are made of numerous materials like roots, twigs, wool, and feathers.
The females lay around 2-6 eggs in a single season. There might be 2-3 seasons in a year.
The eggs are pale white or blue in color with black or light purple marks. The incubation period is almost 14 days.
While the female incubates the eggs, the male feeds her and also continues this role for the chicks, when they’re born.
These chicks are born pink and naked with little white line of feathers and their eyes shut.
They stay around the nest for another 2-3 weeks. They may be fed by their father even after that.
Cassin’s Finch and Purple Finch have plump bodies while House Finches have slimmer bodies.
The stubby and curved bill of a House Finch is one of its characteristic features.
House Finch vs Purple Finch vs Cassin’s Finch
The color of a male House Finch can differ from yellow to orange to red, while the other two have shades of red only.
A House Finch has a smooth crown while the others have a peaked crown.
The oldest House Finch recorded was a 11 years & 7 months old female. Although, these birds might not always live for so many years.
Apr 15, 2021
Mopsgesicht, Jeremy Stanley, Joshua J. Cotten, David Clode, Mateusz Stępień, Angela Loria