House FinchCarpodacus mexicanus

adult male
Rolf Nussbaumer/VIREO
juvenile
Hugh P. Smith, Jr. & Susan C. Smith/VIREO
adult female
Brian E. Small/VIREO
adult male
Bob Steele/VIREO
adult male
Brian E. Small/VIREO
House Finch

Family

Description

5-6" (13-15 cm). Sparrow-sized. Most adult males bright red on crown, breast, and rump, but less extensively so than male Cassin's and Purple Finches. Female has plain, unstriped head and heavy streaking on light underside. Immature males less highly colored, often orangish or yellowish on head and breast.

Voice

A chirp call like that of a young House Sparrow. The song is an extensive series of warbling notes ending in a zeee, canarylike but without the musical trills and rolls. Sings from a high tree, antenna, or similar post for prolonged periods.

Listen

seet calls
various calls
song #3
extended courtship song
song #1
wheet calls
song #2

Habitat

In the East, cities and residential areas; in the West, Chaparral, deserts, and orchards, as well as coastal valleys that were formerly forested with redwood, cedar, or Douglas fir but have now become suburban.

Range

Resident throughout West, from southern Canada to southern Mexico, and east to Nebraska. Introduced and now widespread in eastern North America.

Discussion

House Finches are omnivorous, gleaning insect pests and, in winter, grass and weed seeds. Garden-bred birds join large field flocks during the fall, often feeding in farmers' fields, and may become agricultural pests. The eastern population of this species is descended from cage birds released near New York City in the 1940s. For years the birds barely survived on Long Island, but they then spread in suburban areas. In the late 1960s and 1970s they finally established themselves in urban New York, where their musical song and bright colors add a cheerful touch.

Nesting

3-5 bluish, lightly streaked or spotted eggs, with each pair breeding 2-4 times a summer; tightly woven, compact nest in a bush, thicket, natural cavity, or on a building.

Similar Species

adult male

Common Redpoll

5-5 1/2" (13-14 cm). Smaller than a sparrow. Pale, brown-streaked, with bright red cap and black chin. Male has pink breast.

adult male

Hoary Redpoll

4 1/2-5 1/2" (11-14 cm). Smaller than a sparrow. Similar to the Common Redpoll but slightly paler, with a smaller bill and an unstreaked rump and undertail coverts.

adult male

Pine Siskin

4 1/2-5" (11-13 cm). A dark, streaked finch with notched tail and small patches of yellow in wings and tail.

adult male

Cassin's Finch

6-6 1/2" (15-17 cm). Larger than both House and Purple Finches.

adult male, Eastern

Purple Finch

5 1/2-6 1/2" (14-17 cm). Larger and stockier than House Finch, but smaller than Cassin's and darker than both.

adult male

Black Rosy-Finch

5 1/2-6 1/2" (14-17 cm). Male is dark blackish-brown, with conspicuous gray cap, black forehead, and much pink on belly, rump, wings, and tail.

adult male, breeding

Brown-capped Rosy-Finch

5 3/4-6 1/2" (15-17 cm). Mostly light brown, without gray crown patch of closely related Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch and Black Rosy-Finch. Rump, wing, and belly pinkish rose. Female chiefly brown.

adult male

Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch

5 3/4-6 3/4" (15-17 cm). Dark brown back and underparts; black forehead; gray nape and crown; pink shoulder and rump. Face gray in coastal birds, brown in interior populations.

adult male

Red Crossbill

5 1/4-6 1/2" (13-17 cm). Sparrow-sized. Mandibles crossed at tips. Male dusky brick red. Female gray tinged with dull green, brightest on rump. White-winged Crossbill has 2 white wing bars.

adult male

White-winged Crossbill

6-6 1/2" (15-17 cm). Size of a largish sparrow. Mandibles crossed at tips. Male raspberry-pink; females grayer, without pink. Both sexes have 2 white wing bars.

adult male

Pine Grosbeak

8-10" (20-25 cm). A large plump finch. Stubby, strongly curved black bill. Male has dull rose-red body, with dark streaking on back, dark wings with 2 white wing bars, and dusky, notched tail.

adult male

Vermilion Flycatcher

6" (15 cm). Male has brilliant scarlet crown and underparts, with dark brown back, wings, and tail; female similar to male above but white below with dark streaks.

Vireo

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