Bird Lore: House Finch

Photo by LeRoy VanHee
Photo by LeRoy VanHee

The House Finch, originally a species native to the American southwest and Mexico, has responded robustly to human alteration of habitat since 1940, often muscling out Purple and Cassin’s Finches. After introduction in the eastern U.S., the House Finch can be found now in all 48 contiguous states and in the southern parts of Canada’s provinces.

In Washington, the House Finch thrives in urban, suburban, and rural areas below the coniferous mountain zone. Just look to your backyard bird feeders. You are certain to find House Finches. They enjoy a variety of seeds, fruits, and the blossom buds of many trees. As you can see in this photo, the bird is munching on a spring blossom of a tree near the Edmonds marsh. They can sometimes be seen on the exposed mud in the marsh. Look for them in any open area, particularly where there are blackberry brambles.

The male House Finch usually sports a red rump, breast, and front of the head. Occasionally you will see orange or yellow color variants. The female is much drabber. She has distinctive blurry streaking above and below. The bird has a long, notched tail. Its small bill is designed for seed-eating. You can listen to a House Finch song at this link.

Carol Riddell, author of our new “Bird Lore” feature, manages the bird education displays, on behalf of Pilchuck Audubon Society and Edmonds Parks & Recreation, at the Olympic Beach Visitor Station.

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