Tag Archives: House Finch

Oh, these finches live in Florida too

It was a cheerful whistling with wandering notes and not much of a tune that caused me to look up and see this little bird faced toward the rising sun.

It had some color at the throat, bold stripes, and a blunt, stubby finch-type beak.

I zoomed in.

“Maybe it’s a weird sparrow or some Florida finch I don’t know about yet,” I thought.

The naked eye does not see what my camera sees, at this stage of life. I would review my photos later.

I walked around a couple of blocks, pushing my grandson’s baby stroller on our morning walk. A few minutes later I spotted two of the finch-like birds on wire, just above some seagrapes.

The one on the left had a bit more color. At home I double-checked online and confirmed, “Oh, it’s a House Finch.”

Cornell Lab of Ornithology: House Finch ID

Adult Male: Note very thick bill with curved rather than straight-edged profile. Red on head is largely on the eyebrow and throat, with brownish cheeks. Flanks are boldly streaked.

At first I thought the less-colorful bird on the right must be a female or immature finch, but Cornell says females and not-full-grown House Finches are all brown. So, a less colorful male? Almost looks like he has a little yellow color in addition to red.

The red of a male House Finch comes from pigments contained in its food during molt (birds can’t make bright red or yellow colors directly). So the more pigment in the food, the redder the male. This is why people sometimes see orange or yellowish male House Finches. Females prefer to mate with the reddest male they can find, perhaps raising the chances they get a capable mate who can do his part in feeding the nestlings.

House Finches would sometimes visit our bird feeder in New Hampshire.

I didn’t know they lived in Florida. Cornell’s map does not show their range extending to our area. They just barely edge into our area in winter on the Audubon map. Guess it’s time to update the maps for our little wanderers, who seem to be expanding their range.

One of two House Finches perched over Arch Street in Jensen Beach, Florida.

Well, hey, the map on the Wikipedia entry for House Finches does show them here, as well as everywhere else in the U.S.

Originally only a resident of Mexico and the southwestern United States, they were introduced to eastern North America in the 1940s. The birds were sold illegally in New York City as “Hollywood Finches”, a marketing artifice. To avoid prosecution under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918, vendors and owners released the birds. They have since become naturalized; in largely unforested land across the eastern U.S. they have displaced the native purple finch and even the non-native house sparrow.

Finch, House


Hello little bird up on a branch, with your little red bib matching the winter buds of the red maple tree.


I think you are a House Finch… is this so? You are a bit more orangey-red than the raspberry red of a Purple Finch, with brown and white stripes on your belly.

House Finches have blurry grayish streaking on the belly and flanks, unlike either Cassin’s Finch or Purple Finches. Bill shape is distinctive for House Finches: it’s fairly blunt, and rounded, without a sharp tip.


A pose! so I can get a good look.

Tricky bird IDs: Cassin’s Finch, House Finch, Purple Finch

Yes, I am counting you a House Finch for my Project Feederwatch count days this week, Sunday and Monday. You visited Sunday. It snowed overnight, bringing more birds Monday.

I think I saw a female House Finch too, but I wasn’t sure enough to include her in the count.


The count for January 17-18:

Mourning Dove 9
Red-bellied Woodpecker 1
Downy Woodpecker 5
Hairy Woodpecker 2
Blue Jay 5
Black-capped Chickadee 7
Tufted Titmouse 3
White-breasted Nuthatch 2
Eastern Bluebird 3
European Starling 1
American Tree Sparrow 6
Dark-eyed Junco 6
White-throated Sparrow 1
Northern Cardinal 6
House Finch 1
American Goldfinch 5

House finches

house finch

A couple of male house finches. Often confused with purple finches, but house finches are streaky brown on their flanks and purple finches are not.

We don’t see many at our feeders, but there are many out there…

The House Finch was originally a bird of the western United States and Mexico. In 1940 a small number of finches were turned loose on Long Island, New York, after failed attempts to sell them as cage birds (“Hollywood finches”). They quickly started breeding and spread across almost all of the eastern United States and southern Canada within the next 50 years.

The total House Finch population across North America is staggering. Scientists estimate between 267 million and 1.4 billion individuals.


House finches plus photobombing chickadees.

With their finchy beaks they crack open the sunflower shells to eat their favorite feeder food. They do not flit, but rather… sit.