Georgia Wildlife Web

Home Glossary Classification Conservation Status Regions of Georgia Fishes of Georgia Make a Donation

Species Description

House Finch

Carpodacus mexicanus


Species Image
Last      Next

Classification

Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Fringillidae

Description

Brown crown, back, wings, and tail; light belly and undertail coverts with brown streaking; brown streaking on the flanks. The male has red on the front of the head, above the eye, and on the throat and upper chest (bib). The female has brown where the male is red. Other things to look for: The tail is somewhat square. The song is a high-pitched, variable warbling. 15 cm (6 in) in length.

Life Cycle

The breeding season begins in mid-April and extends into early June. The timing of the breeding season in the Southeast is not well reported. Breeding habitat is primarily urban and suburban areas with trees and shrubs. The House Finch nests in a variety of habitats, including trees, nest boxes or other cavities, ledges on buildings, on top of another old nest, or very rarely on the ground. Most nests are cup-shaped and built of twigs, grass, and other plant material. The female lays 2-6 (usually 4-5) eggs that she incubates for 12-14 days. The young are altricial and fledge 11-19 days after they hatch. The young are cared for by both adults while they are in the nest.

Natural History

Urban and suburban areas are the most common places to find this bird. It is also common at bird feeders. The main diet of the House Finch is seeds, fruits, and other plant material, which it gathers from the ground or vegetation. The House Finch was originally a western species, but was introduced in New York. Since its release, it has spread through most of the eastern United States.

Range

House Finch Region Map The House Finch occurs in the western and eastern United States all year, but is absent from the Great Plains area. This species occurs throughout the Southeast in the winter and in the northern areas during the breeding season. It is common in the northern half of Georgia all year, and common in the southern half only during the winter.

Conservation Status

This species is a common host of the Brown-headed Cowbird in the eastern part of its range. It will raise the cowbird young instead of or in addition to its own. Because this species frequently uses bird feeders, it has spread the House Finch disease, or mycoplasmal conjunctivitis, throughout the East, and the disease now has also been seen in the American Goldfinch. A bird with this disease can be recognized by its swollen, runny, or crusty eyes. Mycoplasmal conjunctivitis commonly results in the death of the infected individual. The transmission of this disease can be reduced by making sure feeders are kept clean (using a 10% bleach solution) and spreading feeders out so that birds are not crowded into close contact.

Similar Species

The species most similar to the House Finch is the Purple Finch. The most common time of the year to see the Purple Finch in Georgia is during the winter, when this bird occasionally comes to bird feeders. The color of the Purple Finch is more rosy than the red of the House Finch. The Purple Finch also has a distinct brown ear patch, lacks the distinctive streaking on the flanks and chest, and has no streaking on the undertail coverts.