The House Finches have been visiting my backyard since the very first time a placed a feeder and still keep coming and nesting in our area.
Adults have a long, square-tipped brown tail and are a brown or dull-brown color across the back with some shading into deep gray on the wing feathers. Breast and belly feathers may be streaked; the flanks usually are. In most cases, adult males’ heads, necks and shoulders are reddish. This color sometimes extends to the belly and down the back, between the wings. Male coloration varies in intensity with the seasons and is derived from the berries and fruits in its diet. Adult females have brown upper-parts and streaked under-parts.
These birds are mainly permanent residents throughout their range; some northern and eastern birds migrate south. Their breeding habitat is urban and suburban areas in eastern North America as well as various semi-open areas in the west from southern Canada to northern Florida.
Originally only a resident of Mexico and the , they were introduced to eastern North America in the 1940s. The birds were sold illegally in New York City as “Hollywood Finches”, a marketing artifice. To avoid prosecution under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918, vendors and owners released the birds. They have become naturalized; in some unforested areas, they have displaced the native Purple Finch and non-native House Sparrow. We extend the “welcome” matt to them any time!
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Text and photographs © H.J. Ruiz – Avian 101