About The House Finch
The House Finch is a social songbird usually found in small flocks. It is originally a species of western USA and Mexico until it was released in New York in 1940. Today, this species is common in Indiana and much of the USA and southern Canada. A House Finch is a slender, sparrow-sized bird around 5 to 5.75 inches long with short, stubby convex bill and square-tipped tail. The male has red crown, chest and rump. Its back, wings and tail are brown. The female is grayish brown overall with blurry streaks on the breast and sides.
The House Finch Nesting Preferences
House Finches will nest in window ledges, holes in buildings, conifer trees, hanging planters and old nests. The female builds most of the nest, a shallow cup of grasses, twigs, leaves and lined with feathers and other fine fibers. The female lays 3 to 6 bluish or greenish white eggs with black spots near the large end. The female incubates the eggs for 13 to 14 days. Both parents feed the nestlings and remove fecal sacs by eating them. The nestlings leave the nest 12 to 15 days after hatching. The male continues to feed the young for about two more weeks while the female builds a new nest and lays the next brood of eggs. Pairs may raise three or more broods each season.
Building a Birdhouse For The House Finch
A House Finch prefers a birdhouse with 5 ½ inches x 5 ½ inches floor and 6-8 inches in height. Entrance hole diameter is 2 inches located 5-7 inches above the floor. For best results, place the birdhouse on a post in backyards or in perches 9-12 feet above the ground.
The House Finch Mating Habits
House Finches are monogamous. Males engage in courtship display known as “butterfly flight” wherein they ascend 20 to 30 meters high and slowly glide to a perch while singing loudly. Other courtship displays such as courtship feeding and mate guarding occur. Females prefer to mate with the brightly colored males because the latter can find enough food to feed the young.
The House Finch Feeding Preferences
The diet of House Finches primarily consists of grains, seeds, buds and fruits. Sunflower, thistle and canary seeds are favorites. Fruits eaten are cherries and mulberries. They also eat flower parts and sometimes insects like beetle larvae and plant lice but may be eaten incidentally with seeds. They scour for food on the ground. When feeding in open territories, they prefer to have high perches nearby. They drink by scooping water into their beak and tilting their head back. They need to drink at least once a day. At feeding stations, any type of food such as suet, birdseeds, bread crumbs and nectar will attract House Finches.
Interesting House Finch Facts
In Hawaii, the House Finch is known as the “papaya bird” because of its preference for the fruit. House Finches are often associated closely with human habitation. House Finch population in an area is correlated to the size of its local human population. They feed on so much fruits that in parts of the West, they may be considered pests. The extent of the red coloring of a male House Finch depends on the carotenoid pigments in the bird’s food during molting period. Studies show that females prefer the brightest male presumably because intensity of color indicates a male’s fitness.