Copyright 2013 by Nancy B. Richardson
(aka Hollywood Finches)
Fringillidae Family; IUCN: Least Concern
Description/Field Marks: About five inches long, a small body with a head which is flat and elongated; short beak for seed eating; streaks on flanks; short, slight notch in tail.
Voice: “Long twittering call” at http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/house_finch/id; males sing more than females? May combine its own song with those of other close by species.
Male/Female: Males have a red head, breast and rump while the female is plain or dull grayish-brown.
Diet: Grains, seeds and berries. Pigment in the male’s diet (during molt) of fruits and berries contribute to his reddish coloration which can range from yellow to even orange.
Courting Displays: Tend toward monogamy. Females prefer reddest males. Males touch female’s beak.
Nesting: Compact cup shape, tightly woven, but built in a hurry by females in most cases and in only two days, sometimes. Males bring food.
Eggs: 2-6 or 3-5, usually 4 or 5. Palish blue color.
Incubation: Two weeks. Fledging after 12-15 days.
Behavior: Social, gregarious, and flocking.
Habitat/Local Sites: Well adapted to urban life; gregarious at feeders. However, they can be found in the “dry desert, desert grassland, chaparral,” according to Cornell.
Range: Western US, but now found in the east as well since the 1940s.
Environmental Threats: While this species numbers in the millions (up to 1.7 billion, according to some estimates), they are susceptible to mycoplasmal conjunctivitis since January 1994.
Did you know: In 1940, they were sold in NYC as “Hollywood Finches”—but the illegal effort failed and birds were released into wild (see the Audubon’s graphic entitled “Range increase of House Finch from Christmas Bird Count Data.”
Citations: The Audubon Society Field Guide, plate 460 and 585 and pages 588-589.
Other References: http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/house_finch/id
(accessed 29 March 2013).
FIELD NOTES: Happy feeders on thistle and seeds at 242.