The House Finch is a recent introduction from western into eastern North America (and Hawaii), but it has received a warmer reception than other arrivals like the European Starling and House Sparrow. That’s partly due to the cheerful red head and breast of males, and to the bird’s long, twittering song, which can now be heard in most of the neighborhoods of the continent. If you haven’t seen one recently, chances are you can find one at the next bird feeder you come across.
House Finch Fun Facts
The total House Finch population across North America is staggering. Scientists estimate the population to be between 267 million and 1.4 billion.
Photo by Nancy Christensen
House Finches eat many kinds of seeds and fruits and feed their nestlings exclusively plant foods, a fairly rare occurrence in the bird world. They readily flock to backyard feeders, and their short, thick bills are perfectly designed for hulling sunflower seeds at a brisk pace. In the blink of an eye, they extract the nutritious contents, and they do it so fast, it looks like a magician’s sleight of hand.
Female House Finches are brown and heavily streaked overall, while males typically sport a red rump, breast, and headband. But a careful look at male House Finches at the feeder shows that, while most males show red feathering, some are decidedly more orange – and some even yellow. It turns out that House Finches acquire their coloration from pigments in the plant foods they eat. These tones each derive from a different organic pigment, known as carotenoids. So that yellow male House Finch standing out from all the red ones? Well, his attire reflects something he ate – or didn’t eat.
Photo by Jeanette Tasey
The oldest known House Finch was a 11 year, 7 month old female that was recaptured and rereleased during banding operations in New York in 1985.
Esquimalt Lagoon Migratory Bird Sanctuary
The Pacific Landing staff spotted a House Finch perched outside our office window just last week. We are lucky enough to be located in the middle of the Esquimalt Migratory Bird Sanctuary and have the pleasure of constantly seeing various species around the property. The preliminary results for the 2017 Christmas Bird Count located 83 different species and 3500 total birds right in our area. Register with us today to book an appointment to visit out sales centre, walk the land and spot a few feathered friends.