Bird GuideFinchesHouse Finch

At a Glance

Adaptable, colorful, and cheery-voiced, House Finches are common from coast to coast today, familiar visitors to backyard feeders. Native to the Southwest, they are recent arrivals in the East. New York pet shop owners, who had been selling the finches illegally, released their birds in 1940 to escape prosecution; the finches survived, and began to colonize the New York suburbs. By 50 years later they had advanced halfway across the continent, meeting their western kin on the Great Plains.
Finches, Perching Birds
Low Concern
Arroyos and Canyons, Desert and Arid Habitats, Fields, Meadows, and Grasslands, Forests and Woodlands, High Mountains, Shrublands, Savannas, and Thickets, Urban and Suburban Habitats
California, Eastern Canada, Florida, Great Lakes, Mid Atlantic, New England, Northwest, Plains, Rocky Mountains, Southeast, Southwest, Texas, Western Canada
Flitter, Rapid Wingbeats, Undulating

Range & Identification

Migration & Range Maps

Mostly permanent resident in West, although some may move to lower elevations for winter. In the East, some are permanent residents but others migrate long distances south in fall. Migrates in flocks, mostly by day.


5-6" (13-15 cm). Female and young have rather plain brown face, blurry stripes all over pale underparts (sharper stripes on juveniles). House Sparrows lack stripes; native sparrows all have different patterns, and most are more secretive. Male House Finch has red eyebrow and forehead contrasting with brown cap. Throat and chest red, lower underparts whitish, with dark stripes on sides. Compare to redpolls. Some males have red replaced by orange or yellow.
About the size of a Robin, About the size of a Sparrow
Brown, Orange, Red, White
Wing Shape
Tail Shape
Notched, Square-tipped

Songs and Calls

A chirp call like that of a young House Sparrow. The song is an extensive series of warbling notes ending in a zeee, canarylike but without the musical trills and rolls. Sings from a high tree, antenna, or similar post for prolonged periods.
Call Pattern
Complex, Falling, Rising, Undulating
Call Type
Chirp/Chip, Hi, Trill, Whistle


Cities, suburbs, farms, canyons. Original habitat was probably streamside trees and brush in dry country, woodland edges, chaparral, other semi-open areas. Now most commonly associated with humans in cities, towns, and farmland, especially in areas with lawns, weedy areas, trees, buildings. Avoids unbroken forest or grassland.



4-5, sometimes 2-6. Pale blue, with black and lavender dots mostly at larger end. Incubation is by female, about 13-14 days.


Both parents feed nestlings. Young leave the nest about 12-15 days after hatching. Up to 3 broods per year, perhaps sometimes more.

Feeding Behavior

Forages on ground, while perching in weeds, or up in trees and shrubs. Except when nesting, usually forages in flocks. Will come to feeders for seeds, especially sunflower seeds, and to hummingbird feeders for sugar-water.


Mostly seeds, buds, berries. Almost all of diet is vegetable matter. Feeds mainly on weed seeds. Other important items include buds and flower parts in spring, berries and small fruits in late summer and fall. Also eats a few insects, mostly small ones such as aphids. Young are fed on regurgitated seeds.


Pairs may begin to form within flocks in winter, and some paired birds may remain together all year. In breeding season, male performs flight-song display, singing while fluttering up with slow wingbeats and then gliding down. Male feeds female during courtship and incubation. Males may sing at any time of year, and females also sing during spring. Nest: Wide variety of sites, especially in conifers, palms, ivy on buildings, cactus, holes in manmade structures, averaging about 12-15' above the ground. Sometimes use sites such as cavities, hanging planters, old nests of other birds. Nest (built mostly by female) is open cup of grass, weeds, fine twigs, leaves, rootlets, sometimes with feathers, string, or other debris added.

Climate Vulnerability

Conservation Status

Now abundant over much of North America. In some parts of East, may be competing with Purple Finches to the detriment of the latter. Local populations in some areas have been hard hit by a bacterial infection called conjunctivitis, which swells their eyes shut and makes it difficult for them to feed themselves.

Climate Map

Audubon’s scientists have used 140 million bird observations and sophisticated climate models to project how climate change will affect the range of the House Finch. Learn even more in our Audubon’s Survival By Degrees project.

Climate Threats Facing the House Finch

Choose a temperature scenario below to see which threats will affect this species as warming increases. The same climate change-driven threats that put birds at risk will affect other wildlife and people, too.

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