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    House Finch Life History


    Habitat TownsHouse Finches are familiar birds of human-created habitats including buildings, lawns, small conifers, and urban centers. In rurual areas, you can also find House Finches around barns and stables. In their native range in the West, House Finches live in natural habitats including dry desert, desert grassland, chaparral, oak savannah, streamsides, and open coniferous forests at elevations below 6,000 feet.Back to top


    Food SeedsHouse Finches eat almost exclusively plant materials, including seeds, buds and fruits. Wild foods include wild mustard seeds, knotweed, thistle, mulberry, poison oak, cactus, and many other species. In orchards, House Finches eat cherries, apricots, peaches, pears, plums, strawberries, blackberries, and figs. At feeders they eat black oil sunflower over the larger, striped sunflower seeds, millet, and milo.Back to top


    Nest Placement

    Nest TreeHouse Finches nest in a variety of deciduous and coniferous trees as well as on cactus and rock ledges. They also nest in or on buildings, using sites like vents, ledges, street lamps, ivy, and hanging planters. Occasionally House Finches use the abandoned nests of other birds.

    Nest Description

    A House Finch’s nest is a cup made of fine stems, leaves, rootlets, thin twigs, string, wool, and feathers, with similar, but finer materials for the lining. Overall width of the nest is 3-7 inches, with the inside cup 1-3 inches across and up to 2 inches deep.

    Nesting Facts
    Clutch Size:2-6 eggs
    Number of Broods:1-6 broods
    Egg Length:0.6-0.8 in (1.6-2.1 cm)
    Egg Width:0.5-0.6 in (1.3-1.5 cm)
    Incubation Period:13-14 days
    Nestling Period:12-19 days
    Egg Description:Pale blue to white, speckled with fine black and pale purple.
    Condition at Hatching:Naked except for sparse white down along feather tracts, eyes closed, clumsy.
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    Behavior Ground ForagerA highly social bird, the House Finch is rarely seen alone outside of the breeding season, and may form flocks as large as several hundred birds. House Finches feed mainly on the ground or at feeders or fruiting trees. At rest, they commonly perch on the highest point available in a tree, and flocks often perch on power lines. During courtship, males sometimes feed females in a display that begins with the female gently pecking at his bill and fluttering her wings. The male simulates regurgitating food to the female several times before actually feeding her.Back to top


    Conservation Low ConcernHouse Finches are common and with the exception of some areas in western North America, their populations appear to have increased between 1966 and 2015, according to the North American Breeding Bird Survey. Partners in Flight estimates a global breeding population of 45 million with 76% in the U.S., 21% in Mexico and 3% in Canada. The species rates a 6 out of 20 on the Continental Concern Scale. House Finch is not on the 2016 State of North America's Birds' Watch List. These birds generally benefit from human development. However, populations underwent a steep decline beginning in January 1994 owing to a disease called mycoplasmal conjunctivitis. The disease causes respiratory problems and red, swollen eyes, making them susceptible to predators and adverse weather. House Finch conjunctivitis was first observed at feeders in the Washington, D.C. area. It’s not harmful to humans, but it has spread rapidly through the eastern House Finch population and into the West. Learn more here. Back to top

    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 out more about what this bird likes to eat and what feeder is best by using the Project FeederWatch Common Feeder Birds bird list.

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    Badyaev, Alexander V., Virginia Belloni and Geoffrey E. Hill. 2012. House Finch (Haemorhous mexicanus), version 2.0. In The Birds of North America (P. G. Rodewald, editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York, USA.

    Dunne, Pete. 2006. Pete Dunne's essential field guide companion: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

    Ehrlich, P. R., D. S. Dobkin and D. Wheye. 1988. The birder's handbook. A Field Guide to the natural history of North American birds, including all species that regularly breed north of Mexico. New York: Simon and Schuster, Inc.

    Lutmerding, J. A. and A. S. Love. Longevity records of North American birds. Version 2015.2. Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, Bird Banding Laboratory 2015.

    Partners in Flight. 2017. Avian Conservation Assessment Database. 2017.

    Sauer, J. R., D. K. Niven, J. E. Hines, Jr. Ziolkowski, D. J., K. L. Pardieck, J. E. Fallon and W. A. Link. The North American breeding bird survey, results and analysis 1966-2015 (Version 2.07.2017). USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center 2017.

    Sibley, David Allen. 2014. The Sibley guide to birds, second edition. Alfred A Knopf, New York.

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