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House Finch from West to East with Pictures

Updated on March 09, 2015

Summary (cont.)

I was not able to fit this into the summary space, but the reason the "finches were released" was "for the dealers to avoid charges".


Read first

For the meanings of bird parts which you do not understand in this Hub, see my bird glossary.

If what you want is not in there, please let me know so that I can add it into the glossary.

House Finch (orange morph)

Orange Morph House Finch. Not an unusual morph considering how common House Finches are.
Orange Morph House Finch. Not an unusual morph considering how common House Finches are. | Source

House Finch (yellow variant)

Yellow variant, male (See capsule 'Colors and patterns.')
Yellow variant, male (See capsule 'Colors and patterns.') | Source

Interesting facts:

The House Finch is the third member of the family Carpodacus. Its full name is Carpodacus mexicanus. The second part of the name is probably because it was basically a native in Mexico and the southwestern United States.

I am sure that most of you know what a House Finch looks like since it has such a wide range, but did you know that there is a 'yellow variant' and an 'orange variant' which may go under the same category? It is occasional and is most frequent in the southwest.

It has been introduced from the western to the eastern part of our country, including Canada and Hawaii.

Its structure is distinctive. Maybe it has a smaller body but it has a longer tail than the other Carpodacus finches; plus it has shorter and more rounded wings, a rounded head and a short bill with a distinctly curved culmen, or mandible (the upper edge of the upper bill).

Did you know that 'development' is commonly the name that is used for a group of House Finches?

Some think of the House Finch as a pest, do you? The reason is because they can be exposed to chronic diseases which can be distributed to other guests/travelers (birds) at the feeders.


Size

The House Sparrow grows to the average adult length of 5" - 6". This length reaches from top of its head (crown) all of the way down its back to the end of its tail. When the bird is flying - or any other time that opens its wings - they have been measured from the tip of one wing to the tip of the other at 9.5". An adult will approximately weigh in at the total of 0.74 ounces.

Male House Finch (Carpodacus mexicanus)

Male H. Finch perched in the branches of an apple tree. (See capsule 'Colors and patterns.')
Male H. Finch perched in the branches of an apple tree. (See capsule 'Colors and patterns.') | Source

Female House Finch (Carpodacus mexicanus)

A female finch with a cherry in her mouth. (See 'Capsule colors and patterns.')
A female finch with a cherry in her mouth. (See 'Capsule colors and patterns.') | Source

Colors and patterns

Male: It is red on the head and upper breast; with broad brown streaking on lower breast and flanks. In some regions, the red head/breast is replaced with yellow or orange.

The yellow variant is only occasional. It is most frequent in the southwest.

Female: It has a uniformly brown-streaked head; some broad brown streaking on the breast and belly; its white undertail coverts usually unstreaked. The short bill helps distinguish from the much larger-billed Cassin's Finch. Female lacks red and there is no conspicuous head pattern. There is also no eye stripe or dark mustache.

Immature: Usually basically resembles female.














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A male feeding a young on a branch. (See capsule 'Feeding.')Yellow-variant adult male House Finch (Carpodacus mexicanus) camouflaged in brush.
A male feeding a young on a branch. (See capsule 'Feeding.')
A male feeding a young on a branch. (See capsule 'Feeding.') | Source
Yellow-variant adult male House Finch (Carpodacus mexicanus) camouflaged in brush.
Yellow-variant adult male House Finch (Carpodacus mexicanus) camouflaged in brush. | Source

Parent finch feeding several young

Feeding

The House Finch forages on the ground for most of the diet. In the trees and in winter it eats grass and weed seeds, such as nettle and dandelion. Plus they eat blossoms, fruits, buds and they are omnivorous, gleaning insect pests.

These birds also eat seed from feeders in approximately mid-spring and into the mid-summer. Especially if you fill the feeders with sunflower - I used to see them at my window feeder with H. Sparrows eating Black Oil Sunflower - or thistle seed. The adult H. Finches seem to dominate the feeders while they are raising their young. They eat the seeds, suet, peanuts, fruit and kitchen scraps. It is another finch that competes with hummingbirds at sugar-water feeders.

I also have a photo of a different H. Finch which instead of the usual red on its body has some yellow. This is due to a change in their diet. Mostly they eat grains, seeds and berries. They devour weed seeds like nettle and dandelion plus small insects. They still visit bird feeders with sunflower and sock feeders with nyjer seed.

In the earlier spring the adults are pairing off and mating. In the later summer into fall they are occasionally at feeders but usually foraging on the ground and trees. In the winter they still come to feeders but it will depend on the weather how many finches you see in your area.

Even though the Brown-headed Cowbird will lay its eggs in the H. Finches nest, the young cowbirds are out of luck because the House Finch feeds a diet to their young which is insufficient for young cowbirds and the cowbirds hardly survive due to this.


Nesting and breeding.

They generally make their nest out of twigs, grasses, leaves and other debris. It is placed in a variety of artificial and natural cavities, such as trees, cacti, vines, and occasionally in (vacant) bird houses. As well as building openings, hanging planters, foundation plantings, and outdoor decorations, as long as it is something cup shaped. A Purple Martin house is a popular nest for them to use.

It is usually tightly woven and may be set anywhere from a bush to a building. They have even been found in the Empire State Building and the Satue of Liberty - for starters.

You will notice that the male and female touch bills, usually back and forth a few times. This is them courting. She probably waits while he picks up a few pieces of food (I believe one at a time) and places them in front of her. If she then imitates a baby chick (by squatting while flapping her wings and opening her beak), he feeds her.



Eggs in nest

Light blue speckled eggs of House Finch in a nest (See capsule 'Eggs.')
Light blue speckled eggs of House Finch in a nest (See capsule 'Eggs.') | Source

Eggs

They have 3 to 5 blue to white eggs which are lightly streaked or spotted. They may be a total of a few inches to fit in a nest of about eight inches.

Each pair of adults breeds 1 to 4 times generally in March through August.

Incubation: The female watches over the eggs for 12 to 16 days.

Fledging: Once hatched from the eggs, the young are still in the nest for another 11 to 19 days because they are altricial. They are somewhat awkward since their eyes remain closed for awhile. They are also covered with a soft down which is pink. Although the young stay in the nest, the mother removes the hatched eggs as soon as the young are out of them.




Habitat

It is possible to see them in urban areas, suburbs, parks, canyons, semi-dry brush country and in weedy fields. They can also be seen on chaparral, in deserts and in orchards. Even in coastal dunes/valleys which used to be covered with trees such as redwood, cedar, or Douglas fir but are now suburban.

The House Finch thrives around human habitation.


Voice: Song and call

The song can be varied. It generally begins with husky, whistled notes but is usually a musical, canary-like warble. Usually ending with slightly lower bury notes such as ascending "zeeee" or downslurred "jeeer" note. Both the male and the female sing.

Call note may sound like a hard "chirp", or a soft mellow "fillp" or "fildlp" note.

A soft, husky "cheep" or "vweet" is a call given in flight while given in a series. Sort of like softer notes of a House Sparrow.



Range map

Range map of House Finches Adapted from: Smitsonian field guide to the birds of North America (See capsule 'Range.')
Range map of House Finches Adapted from: Smitsonian field guide to the birds of North America (See capsule 'Range.') | Source

Range

The House Finch started as a resident throughout the West, from southern Canada to southern Mexico, and east to Nebraska.

In the eastern U.S., the House Finch is a resident from Michigan to Maine, south to Georgia.

Even though they were first introduced in the East, they dominated the West. In the West their popular residences consist of suburban areas, orchards, chaparral and deserts. The U.S. and Mexico have them broadly spread all over these days.

Due to migration in Florida and other nearby states they also moved eastward.



Conservation Status

At the moment the House Finch is not at any threat. It is spread through Canada, United States and Mexico. They are presently listed as Least Concern.

Back around January of 1994 there was a steep decline due to a disease (mycoplasmal conjunctivitis). This disease is of no worry to humans but for the birds there are problems such as respiratory and red, swollen eyes. Because of these problems the birds have to be extra careful for predators and even harmful weather.

Other information

They are garden-bred birds which join large field flocks during the fall, often feeding in farmers' fields and may become agricultural pests to the farmers.


Have you seen a House Finch?

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© 2013 The Examiner-1

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    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 3 years ago from Wales

      I am so glad I came across this gem Kevin. As always so very interesting and we have many Finches visiting our table but not this one.This gem deserves greater reading so I share onto my FB page 'A Brand New Dawn' and others.

      Take care and wishing you a great day.

      Eddy.

    • The Examiner-1 profile image
      Author

      The Examiner-1 3 years ago

      I am happy to see that you liked it. I would not be surprised if the House Finch is introduced into your area, it seems to adapt quickly to new conditions and environmental changes. Thank you for sharing this. :-)

      I hope that you also have a very nice day.

      Let the birds fly free!

      Kevin

    • Rachel L Alba profile image

      Rachel L Alba 23 months ago from Every Day Cooking and Baking

      I absolutely love birds. I love how in the spring and summer they start singing at 5 in the morning. Not many people would like that, but I do. If I'm down, their singing cheers me up. I like that a lot of your hubs are about birds. I will read them all. I don't know if we have finches here in NE PA. My daughter will though. I'm going to ask her. Is there special food that they like? I will get it if there is. Thanks for sharing. Voted up.

      Blessings to you.

    • The Examiner-1 profile image
      Author

      The Examiner-1 23 months ago

      Hello Rachel, it is nice that you stopped by. I first wrote about birds when I began here since they are one of my hobbies and I have enjoyed them for years. Their singing cheers me up too.

      I grew up in NJ and had a large bird garden with many feeders one of which was a window feeder. At that feeder I used to watch finches all of the time come and go. Now you will have many finches in your area and what they eat depends on which type we speak of. The two most popular probably are the House Finch and the Purple Finch.

      Away from the feeder they have natural foods but at the feeders they each eat different seeds. The House Finch likes peanuts, suet and kitchen scraps. The Purple Finch prefers Black Oil Sunflower, thistle and suet. These are only a few items but they are starters.

      Again I thank you for reading this and I also am grateful for your vote.

      Have a nice day. :-)

      Kevin

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