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House Finch

Haemorhous mexicanus ORDER: PASSERIFORMES FAMILY: FRINGILLIDAE

IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

House Finch Photo

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.

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Songs

Male House Finches sing a long, jumbled warbling composed of short notes. The song often ends with an upward or downward slur, and lasts about 3 seconds. Males may sing throughout the year. Females sometimes give a shorter, simpler version of the song. Compared with Cassin’s and Purple finches, House Finch songs sound slower, rougher, and somewhat less fluid. The final slurred note is more often heard in House Finches than in the other two species.

Calls

Male and female House Finch calls are a sharp cheep made often, including while perched and during flight. You may hear a sharper version of this call as the birds flush from the ground.

Search the Macaulay Library online archive for more sounds and videos

Backyard Tips

Fill your backyard feeders with small, black oil sunflower seed. If House Finches discover your feeders, they might bring flocks of 50 or more birds with them.

Find This Bird

You can find House Finches by looking around settled habitats, such as city parks, urban centers, residential backyards, farms, and forest edges. Gregarious and social, House Finches are found in noisy groups that are hard to miss if present. Look for House Finches feeding on the ground or at bird feeders, or perching high in nearby trees.

Get Involved

House Finches are a focal bird species for the Celebrate Urban Birds! project. Conduct a 10-minute count and record whether or not you see finches.

House Finches often nest near homes and buildings, sometimes even on Christmas wreaths left hanging after the holidays, or on nesting platforms built for them. Report nesting activities to NestWatch.

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More background in a 1999 Birdscope article, "Population Dynamics of the House Finch"

If You Build It, They Might Come: Tips for enticing House Finches to nest

Tricky Bird IDs: House Finch, Purple Finch, and Cassin's Finch

Epidemic in the Northwest: Ten years after House Finch eye disease was discovered in the east, an epidemic breaks out on the opposite side of the continent

Why Did House Sparrow Numbers Rise, then Fall? Citizen-science data point to competition with House Finches

Where Finches Sleep

Risk Management for Chickadees, Living Bird, Autumn 2013

Scientists Track Supervillain, Living Bird, Winter 2014

All About Birds Blog, How a House Finch Disease Reshaped What We Know About Epidemics, December 2013.