World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

House finch


House finch

House finch
Adult male
Adult female
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Suborder: Passeri
Parvorder: Passerida
Family: Fringillidae
Subfamily: Carduelinae
Genus: Haemorhous
Species: H. mexicanus
Binomial name
Haemorhous mexicanus
(Müller, 1776)
Range of H. mexicanus      Breeding range     Year-round range
  • Burrica mexicana
  • Carpodacus mexicanus
House finch recording.

The house finch (Haemorhous mexicanus) is a bird in the finch family Fringillidae. It is found in North America, where its range has increased since the mid-twentieth century, and in the islands of Hawaii. This species and the other "American rosefinches" are placed in the genus Haemorhous by the American Ornithologists' Union but have usually been included in Carpodacus.


  • Description 1
  • Taxonomy 2
  • Range and habitat 3
  • Feeding 4
  • Breeding 5
  • Parasites 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8


This is a moderately-sized finch. Adult birds are 12.5 to 15 cm (4.9 to 5.9 in) and span 20 to 25 cm (7.9 to 9.8 in). Body mass can vary from 16 to 27 g (0.56 to 0.95 oz), with an average weight of 21 g (0.74 oz). Among standard measurements, the wing chord is 7 to 8.4 cm (2.8 to 3.3 in), the tail is 5.7 to 6.5 cm (2.2 to 2.6 in), the culmen is 0.9 to 1.1 cm (0.35 to 0.43 in) and the tarsus is 1.6 to 1.8 cm (0.63 to 0.71 in).[2] 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.[3][4] This color sometimes extends to the belly and down the back, between the wings. Male coloration varies in intensity with the seasons[5] and is derived from the berries and fruits in its diet.[6] As a result, the colors range from pale straw-yellow through bright orange (both rare) to deep, intense red. Adult females have brown upperparts and streaked underparts.

Their song is a rapid, cheery warble or a variety of chirps.


This bird belongs to the American Carpodacus genus, together with Cassin's finch Carpodacus cassinii. This American radiation is not genetically related to the Asian Carpodacus radiation.[7][8]

Range and habitat

These birds are mainly permanent residents throughout their range; some northern and eastern birds migrate south.[9] 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[6] and the Mexican state of Oaxaca; the population in central Chiapas may be descended from escaped cagebirds.[4]

Originally only a resident of Mexico and the southwestern United States, they were introduced to eastern North America in the 1940s. The birds were sold illegally in New York City[6] as "Hollywood Finches", a marketing artifice.[5] To avoid prosecution under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918, vendors and owners released the birds. They have become naturalized; in largely unforested land across the Eastern U.S., they have displaced the native purple finch and even the non-native house sparrow.[10] In 1870, or before, they were introduced into Hawaii and are now abundant on all its major islands.[11]

There are estimated to be anywhere from 267 million to 1.7 billion individuals across North America.[6]

Range increase of house finch from Christmas Bird Count data


Yellow variant caused by diet.

House finches forage on the ground or in vegetation normally. They primarily eat grains, seeds and berries, being voracious consumers of weed seeds such as nettle and dandelion; included are incidental small insects such as aphids. They are frequent visitors to bird feeders throughout the year, particularly if stocked with sunflower or nyjer seed, and will congregate at hanging nyjer sock feeders. The house finch is known to damage orchard fruit and consume commercially grown grain but is generally not considered a significant pest but rather an annoyance.[12]


Nest and eggs
Couple of house finches
Same nest with young nestlings
Older nestlings in nest in a tree cholla
Male house finch feeds a fledgeling, who cheeps loudly and flaps its wings.

Nests are made in cavities, including openings in buildings, hanging plants, and other cup-shaped outdoor decorations. Sometimes nests abandoned by other birds are used. Nests may be re-used for subsequent broods or in following years. The nest is built by the female, sometimes in as little as two days.[13] It is well made of twigs and debris, forming a cup shape, usually 1.8 to 2.7 m (5.9 to 8.9 ft) above the ground.[13]

Male house finch feeding a female as part of the courtship ritual
Profile of a male house finch

During courtship, the male will touch bills with the female. He may then present the female with choice bits of food, and if she mimics the behavior of a hungry chick, he may actually feed her. The male also feeds the female during the breeding and incubation of both eggs and young,[14] and the male is the primary feeder of the fledgelings (who can be differentiated from the females by the pin feathers remaining on their heads). Females are typically attracted to the males with the deepest pigment of red to their head, more so than the occasional orange or yellowish-headed males that sometimes occur.[6]

The female lays clutches of eggs from February through August, two or more broods per year with 2 to 6 eggs per brood, most commonly 4 or 5. The egg laying usually takes place in the morning, at the rate of one egg per day.[14] The eggs are a pale bluish green with few black spots and a smooth, somewhat glossy surface. In response to mite infestation, the mother finch may lay one gender of egg first, which increases the chances of the young finches' survival.[15] The female incubates the eggs for 12 to 14 days. Shortly after hatching, she removes the empty eggshells from the nest.[16][17] The hatchlings are pink with closed eyes and tufts of fluffy down.[18] The female always feeds the young, and the male usually joins in.[14] The young are silent for the first seven or eight days, and subsequently start peeping during feedings.[13] Initially, the mother carries fecal sacs out of the nest, but when the young become older, she no longer carries them all away, allowing droppings to accumulate around the edge of the nest.[13] Before flying, the young often climb into adjacent plants, and usually fledge at about 11 to 19 days after hatching.[13] Dandelion seeds are among the preferred seeds fed to the young.[16] Most birds, even ones with herbivorous leanings as adults, tend to feed their nestlings animal matter in order to give them the protein necessary to grow. House finches are one of the few birds who feed their young only plant matter.[6]

House finches are aggressive enough to drive other birds away from places such as feeders.[19]


The house finch may be infected by a number of parasites including Plasmodium relictum[20] and Mycoplasma gallisepticum, which caused the population of house finches in eastern North America to crash during the 1990s.[21]

The mite Pellonyssus reedi is often found on house finch nestlings, particularly for nests later in the season.[22]

The brown-headed cowbird, a brood parasite, will lay its eggs in house finch nests, although the diet house finches feed their young is inadequate for the young cowbirds, which rarely survive.[23]

The beak is short and deep, similar to other passerine species adapted to crush seeds.[24]


  1. ^  
  2. ^ Clement, Peter; Harris, Alan; Davis, John (1993). Finches and Sparrows: an Identification Guide. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press.  
  3. ^  
  4. ^ a b Howell, Steve N. G.; Webb, Sophie (1995). A Guide to the Birds of Mexico and Northern Central America. Oxford University Press. pp. 757–758.  
  5. ^ a b Caldwell, Eldon R. "IV Birds – House Finch". Retrieved April 19, 2008. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f "House Finch". All About Birds. Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology. Retrieved April 19, 2008. 
  7. ^ Arnaiz-Villena, A.; Moscoso, J.; Ruiz-del-Valle, V.; Gonzalez, J.; Reguera, R.; Wink, M.; Serrano-Vela, J. I. (2007). "Carpodacus and evolution and heterogeneity of the genus Linurgus olivaceus"Bayesian phylogeny of Fringillidae birds: status of the singular African oriole finch (PDF). Acta Zoologica Sinica 53 (5): 826–834. Retrieved 14 December 2009. 
  8. ^ Arnaiz-Villena, A; Gómez-Prieto P; Ruiz-de-Valle V (2009). "Phylogeography of finches and sparrows". Nova Science Publishers.  
  9. ^ Belthoff, James R.; Gauthreaux, Sidney A. (1991). "Partial Migration and Differential Winter Distribution of House Finches in the Eastern United States" (PDF). The Condor 93 (2): 374–382.  
  10. ^ Wootton, JT. (1987). "Interspecific Competition between Introduced House Finch Populations and Two Associated Passerine Species".  
  11. ^ Caum, E.L. (1933). "The exotic birds of Hawaii". Bishop Museum Occasional Papers ( 
  12. ^ Montana state government. "House finch detailed information". Retrieved 2007-08-14. 
  13. ^ a b c d e Evanden, Fred G. (1957). "Observations on Nesting Behavior of the House Finch" (PDF). The Condor (University of California Press/Cooper Ornithological Society) 59 (2): 112–117.  
  14. ^ a b c Thompson, William L (1960). "Agonistic Behavior in the House Finch. Part I: Annual Cycle and Display Patterns" (PDF). The Condor (University of California Press, Cooper Ornithological Society) 62 (4): 245–271.  
  15. ^ Badyaev, Alexander V.; Hamstra, Terri L.; Oh, Kevin P.; Acevedo Seaman, Dana A. (September 26, 2006). "Sex-biased maternal effects reduce ectoparasite-induced mortality in a passerine bird". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America) 103 (39): 14406–11.  
  16. ^ a b Bergtold, W.H. (1913). "A Study of the House Finch" (PDF). The Auk 30 (1). Retrieved May 23, 2008. 
  17. ^ Woods, Robert S. (1968). "Life Histories of Familiar North American Birds: House Finch". Smithsonian Institution United States National Museum Bulletin (237): 290–314. 
  18. ^ "House Finch Nest Survey" (PDF). Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology. 
  19. ^ "Backyard Birds of Winter in Nova Scotia". Retrieved August 18, 2009. 
  20. ^ Hartup, Barry K.; Oberc, A.; Stott-Messick, B.; Davis, A. K.; Swarthout, E. C. (April 2008). ) from Georgia and New York"Carpodacus mexicanus"Blood Parasites of House Finches ( (PDF). Journal of Wildlife Diseases 44 (2): 469–74.  
  21. ^ Nolan, Paul M.; Hill, Geoffrey E.; Stoehr, Andrew M. (7 June 1998). "Sex, Size, and Plumage Redness Predict House Finch Survival in an Epidemic". Proceedings: Biological Sciences (The Royal Society) 265 (1400): 961–965.  
  22. ^ Stoehr, Andrew M.; Nolan, Paul M.; Hill, Geoffrey E.; McGraw, Kevin J. (2000). ) and the reproductive biology of the house finch (Carpodacus mexicanus)"Pellonyssus reedi"Nest mites ( (PDF). The Canadian Journal of Zoology 78 (12): 2126–2133.  
  23. ^ Kozlovic, Daniel R.; Knapton, Richard W.; Barlow, Jon C. (1996). "Unsuitability of the House Finch as a Host of the Brown-Headed Cowbird" (PDF). The Condor 96 (2): 253–258.  
  24. ^ Jonathan Weiner (1994). The Beak of the Finch: A Story of Evolution in Our Time. Knopf.  

External links

  • Florida's Introduced Birds: House Finch ("Carpodacus mexicanus") – University of Florida fact sheet
  • Carpodacus mexicanusHouse Finch - - USGS Patuxent Bird Identification InfoCenter
    • House Finch Sound
  • House Finch videos, photos, and sounds at the Internet Bird Collection
  • House Finch Bird Sound at Florida Museum of Natural History
  • House Finch photo gallery at VIREO (Drexel University)
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.