The House Finch (Haemorhous mexicanus) is a bird in the Finch family Fringillidae. It is native to western North America and has been introduced to the eastern half of the continent and Hawaii. This species and the other “American Rose Finches” are placed in the genus Haemorhous. [Wikipedia]
The House Finch is a recent introduction from western into eastern North America (and Hawaii), but it has received a warmer reception than other arrivals like the European Starling and House Sparrow. That’s partly due to the cheerful red head and breast of males, and to the bird’s long, twittering song, which can now be heard in most of the neighborhoods of the continent. If you haven’t seen one recently, chances are you can find one at the next bird feeder you come across. [All About Birds]
House Finch Facts [All About Birds]
- The House Finch was originally a bird of the western United States and Mexico. In 1940 a small number of finches were turned loose on Long Island, New York, after failed attempts to sell them as cage birds (“Hollywood finches”). They quickly started breeding and spread across almost all of the eastern United States and southern Canada within the next 50 years.
- The red of a male House Finch comes from pigments contained in its food during molt (birds can’t make bright red or yellow colors directly). So the more pigment in the food, the redder the male. This is why people sometimes see orange or yellowish male House Finches. Females prefer to mate with the reddest male they can find, perhaps raising the chances they get a capable mate who can do his part in feeding the nestlings.
- House Finches feed their nestlings exclusively plant foods, a fairly rare occurrence in the bird world. Many birds that are vegetarians as adults still find animal foods to keep their fast-growing young supplied with protein.
- The oldest known House Finch was a female, and at least 11 years, 7 months old when she was recaptured and re-released during banding operations in New York in 1985, the same state where she had been banded in 1973.