The House Finch

Another birhousefinchd that we see quite often  is the House Finch. The bright reddish-burgundy coloration of the male makes it easy to identify . There are similar-looking birds, the Cassin’s and Purple Finches, but they are far less common, lack the brown streaks on the flanks of the House Finch, and generally avoid human habitations. The House Finch was originally native to the east coast but was introduced to the west coast and is now found all over the U.S. It has an affinity for human dwellings and often nests around or on houses, barns, and landscaping. I once had a pair nest in a bicycle helmet that was hanging in our garage. They build a typical plain songbird nest after the brightly colored male attracts a female. The male gets his bright colors from red berries and the redder he is the more attractive he is, presumably because the level of redness indicates success in finding food, thus indicating that the male will be a good provider for the young. Their song is distinctive, but I always have a hard time interpreting a written description of a bird song, so I’m just going to give you a link here if you want to listen to it . It is pretty distinctive. Because they nest in and around suburban and agricultural buildings, as do a few other species like starlings, pigeons, and mockingbirds, you might see a young bird after it leaves the nest. Most people seem to be unfamiliar with the fact that young songbirds, after about ten days of age, JUMP from the nest. They are covered with feathers but their flight feathers are not long enough to allow them to fly. So the parents take care of them on the ground for another ten days or so. Many well-meaning folks think the young birds fell from the nest and either put them back in the nest (from which they will just jump out again) or take them home to try to raise them. It is far better to leave the young bird alone and let the parents care for it. Occasionally due to wind or a predator, baby birds that are not fully feathered (you will see the pink skin clearly), fall from a nest. Then you can put them and/or the nest back. Touching them or the nest will NOT cause the parents to abandon the nest – that is a myth. If you truly feel you have to raise a young bird, contactyour local bird rehab center or go to for links to information on how to take care of an abandoned or injured bird. It is very difficult to raise a young bird if you have not had the experience, and almost always, it is best to let Mother Nature take care of its creatures.

Author: Dr. Roger Lederer

Ornithologist and emeritus Professor of Biological Sciences at California State University, Chico, whose academic and research interests are ecology, environmental science, science education and ornithology. Published over thirty scientific research papers, a textbook entitled Ecology and Field Biology, books entitled Amazing Birds, Birds of New England, Pacific Coast Bird Finder, Bird Finder, Birds of Bidwell Park, and Latin for Birdwatchers . Dr. Lederer has taught ornithology and ecology, worked with environmental organizations and schools on research and education projects, has traveled to over 100 countries, given many public presentations, and knows exactly what birds you will find anywhere in the world.

1 thought on “The House Finch”

  1. It COULD be a Cassin’s Finch, which looks almost exctlay like a purple finch, except with a bit more brown around the back collar, which this little cutie seems to have.

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