House Finch

Haemorhous mexicanus

Description

The House Finch is a small-bodied songbird that is common across Western North America and has been introduced in the Eastern United States. A male House Finch typically has a reddish breast, head and rump, while a female will have a much drabber brown coloration. Both the male and female House Finch have fairly large beaks and somewhat long, flat heads. Their wings are relatively short, making their tails seem longer in comparison.

Size

Adult House Finches measure 5.1-5.5 inches (13-14 cm) in length with a wingspan of 7.9-9.8 inches (20-25 cm). The average adult House Finch weighs 0.6-1 oz. (16-27 g). Males are slightly larger than females.

Adaptations

  • Wild House Finches have been observed having different breeding behaviors in different locations based on the climate they are living in.

Diet:

House Finches consume almost exclusively plant material, with a wide variety of food including fruits, seeds, buds, and nuts. At Cosley Zoo, the House Finch is fed fruits and vegetables, and bird seed.

Reproduction

Breeding season occurs from March through August. House Finches form monogamous pair bonds which usually last until one member of the pair dies. The have the ability to build their nests pretty much anywhere, including trees, shrubs, cacti, and lamp posts. The female lays 3-6 eggs per clutch (group of eggs). Eggs are incubated for 12-17 days before hatching. The female incubates the eggs; the male brings food to the female but doesn’t begin to help care for the chicks until a few days after they hatch. The young fledge (leave the nest) after 12-19 days.

Shelter and space needs

House finches are found in open deserts, grasslands, and coniferous forests in the western United States. In the eastern United States, house finches are rarely found far from urban and suburban areas.

Life expectancy

In captivity, the average life expectancy for this species is 9-10 years, with the oldest known wild House Finch recorded to be at least 11 years and 7 months old.

Relationship with man

House Finches assist with seed dispersal by hiding seeds and nuts for later use, and occasionally failing to retrieve them. Many people find their song enjoyable.

Fun Facts:

  • House Finches were introduced to Oahu from San Francisco sometime before 1870. They had become abundant on all the major Hawaiian Islands by 1901.
  • Scientists estimate the total House Finch population across North America to be between 267 million and 1.4 billion individuals.