Guardian Nature School Team Contact Blog Project Noah Facebook Project Noah Twitter

A global community of nature enthusiasts
photographing and learning about wildlife

Join Project Noah!
nature school apple icon

Project Noah Nature School visit nature school

house finch

Carpodacus mexicanus

Description:

House finches are small songbirds. Average adults are 14 cm long and weigh 19 to 22 g. Their wings are about 8.4 cm long and tails are about 6.6 cm long. Females are approximately 1.3 cm shorter than males. Males have rosy-pink throats and rumps. They have a red line over their eyes, their backs are lightly streaked in red, their abdomens are whitish and streaked with brown, and they have brown-streaked wings, sides, and tails. Females are brownish overall but may also have some pale red coloration. Young house finches look similar to adult females. House Finches may be confused with Purple Finches. Purple Finches have a more reddish color on their upper parts and are not streaked on their abdomens. House finches are socially monogamous. Breeding pairs begin to form in winter, culminating in pairbonds established just before the breeding season begins. Males will engage in a courtship display known as the "butterfly flight" whereby they ascend to 20 to 30 m, then slowly glide to a perch singing a loud continuous song. They also engage in courtship feeding and mate guarding. Females appear to prefer males that have brightly colored plumage. The red plumage color is directly related to intake of carotenoid-rich foods. Bright red coloration may therefor indicate good competitive and foraging capabilities in a male, making them a desirable mate. House finches breed between March and August. A pair may lay as many as 6 clutches during one breeding season, though typically no more than three of these clutches will result in fledglings. The female builds the nests, which are shallow cups constructed of grasses, hair, or other available fibers. Nests are constructed in sagebrush, saltbrush, mountain mahogany, cactuses, tree cavities, buildings, on tree branches, or in bird boxes. The female lays 3 to 6 bluish or greenish-white eggs that are spotted with black near the large end. Each egg weighs approximately 2.4 g and takes 12 to 17 (usually 13 or 14) days to hatch. The female does all of the incubation and broods the altricial chicks constantly for the first few days after hatching. Both parents feed the nestlings and remove fecal sacs from the nest by eating them. The nestlings leave the nest 12 to 19 days after hatching. The male continues to feed the fledglings for an undetermined amount of time (probably no longer than the incubation period) while the female builds a new nest and lays the next brood of eggs. After they become independent, juvenile house finches form large flocks that congregate at food sources. These young finches will be able to breed the next spring. The young are incubated and brooded in the nest by females only. Males bring food to the female but do not participate in direct care of the young until a few days after hatching, when both parents begin an intensive period of feeding the nestlings. After the chicks leave the nest, the male typically continues to feed the chicks while the female begins building the nest for the next brood. House finches are known to live up to 11 years and 7 months in the wild, though most probably live much shorter lives.

Habitat:

In the eastern United States, house finches are highly adaptable to urban and suburban environments. In fact, they are found almost exclusively in areas where buildings and lawns are present. They are also found in the open desert and desert grassland, chaparral, oak savannah, riparian areas, and open coniferous forests of the western United States, their native range.The native range of house finches extends from Oregon, Idaho and northern Wyoming to California, New Mexico and Mexico, eastward to the western portions of Nebraska, Kansas and Texas. In the 1940's a shipment of house finches was introduced into Long Island, New York. After struggling to survive for several years the population eventually became established and has spread throughout the eastern portion of the United States coast. They now occur from southern Canada south to the Gulf of Mexico, throughout the eastern seaboard and as far west as the Mississippi river. These newly established eastern populations have since become migratory, and now spend winters in the southern parts of the United States. House finches have also been introduced to the Hawaiian Islands.

Notes:

These birds almost exclusively eat grains, seeds, buds and fruits. Common seeds eaten include thistle, dandelion, sunflower, and mistletoe. In the late summer, fruits, such as cherries and mulberries, are some of their favorites. House finches will also eat flower parts and do sometimes eat insects such as beetle larvae and plant lice, but these may be eaten incidentally with seeds. House finches drink by scooping water into their bill and tilting their head back. Finches typically need to drink at least once per day

Species ID Suggestions



Sign in to suggest organism ID

2 Comments

SusanEllison
SusanEllison 10 years ago

thanks

Seeker4264
Seeker4264 10 years ago

Beautiful! Din hua!

SusanEllison
Spotted by
SusanEllison

Houston, Texas, USA

Spotted on Jan 18, 2012
Submitted on Jan 18, 2012

Noah Guardians
Noah Sponsors
join Project Noah Team

Join the Project Noah Team