Initially the House Finch was a bird of the west, but because of its rosy breast and very melodic song, people wanted to own one.
To supply demand, pet stores in the eastern part of the US were importing this small bird with a redhead from mainly California, its native home.
Once a crackdown on this illegal trade went into effect, shop owners were quick to release the birds into the wild.
Fortunately for the birds and many of us, the House Finch adapted particularly well and now is a common bird in nearly every state.
The male House Finch has a length of about 5 1/2 inches, with red on the head, upper breast, and flanks. In some regions, the color red may be replaced with yellow or orange.
This difference in coloration is most likely due to the differences in regional diets. Many people think they are seeing a Red-headed Sparrow Bird.
While females look similar to sparrows, there is no such thing as a Red Headed Sparrow or Red Headed Wren.
The female has a uniform brown-streaked head with broad brown streaking on the breast and belly. The under-tail coverts are usually unstreaked.
The term "mate for life" is a bit of a stretch with House Finches, even though some pairs stay together through winter and breed again the following season.
Many find new mates each breeding season. Interesting to note that pairs that stay together nest a little earlier than those that don't stay together.
During courtship, females solicit food from prospective mates. The males either mock feed or regurgitate food in the female's mouth.
As with many songbirds, House Finches are monogamous.
One interesting detail is that the males will defend the female they're mated with and not be overly protective with defending territory.
Most other birds try to defend both their mate and territory.
The image below shows what a House Finch nest looks like with one egg inside.
Several nests may be built before the actual nest where young will be raised is selected.
The breeding season for House Finches can begin in March and go into August, depending on the success of broods.
Although bird watchers may see the male with nesting material, the female builds the actual nest.
The nest is cup-shaped and made of twigs, grasses, and leaves.
|House Finch Nesting Stats|
|Eggs||2 - 6|
|Incubation||12 - 14 days|
|Nestling Phase||11 - 17 days|
|Broods||1 - 3|
House finches will nest in a variety of artificial and natural cavities such as old woodpecker holes, hanging plants, and door wreaths, and occasionally birdhouses.
The nest is located 5 to 10 feet above ground.
The female lays 2 to 6 bluish eggs that are finely speckling. Incubation is done by the female and the eggs will hatch in 12 to 14 days.
The young will leave the nest in about 11 to 17 days after hatching.
House Finches can raise as many as 3 brood each season.
They may reuse the nest or use another Finches nest or build a new one using materials from the old nest.
During incubation and for about five days after the young have hatched, the male will feed the female on the nest.
He does this by regurgitating the seed into the female's beak. The female regurgitates the food to the nestlings.
After the young have fledged, the parents continue to feed the young. The female may find a new mate and raise another brood while the male continues to feed the young.
Some females will begin a second nest just before the first clutch fledges.
The Brown-headed Cowbird often lays its eggs in House Finches nests. When this happens, the eggs may be removed by the Finches or the nest may be abandoned.
Unlike many other birds who switch their eating habits in spring and summer, Finches are vegetarians all year.
Their diet consists of seeds, fruit, buds, and weed seeds. Even during the breeding season, these birds regurgitate seeds to their young.
House Finches forage both on the ground and in trees. Bird watchers can easily attract this bird to feeders by offering Black-oil Sunflower, safflower, and nyjer seeds.
A Squirrel Proof feeder is recommended for sunflower seed as squirrels will make off with the seed before the birds have a chance to eat. Check out some of the feeders below for offering nyjer seed.
A Heated Birdbath can be a valuable resource during winter for all your feeder birds.
In Mexico, House Finches are still legally caught and sold as caged birds.
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