Our Wild Neighbors

House Finch

Carpodacus mexicanus

A small North American city dweller

Image of a House Finch, seen from the side with its head to the right, perched on a branch.

Description of the animal

  • Small rosy-coloured sparrow.
  • The male’s chest, face, and rump are rosy red while the rest of its body is brown with beige stripes. The intensity of its red colour depends on the pigments found in its food when it moults. Thus, finches are not all the same shade. The reddest male finches are most popular among females.
  • The female’s feathers are brownish-gray. She is smaller than the male and has thick, vague stripes on her body, except on her head.
  • Short and straight beak adapted to a seed diet.

Habitat and needs

  • Lives and eats in a flock from birdfeeders, in trees, and on the ground.
  • Hops to move about.
  • Sometimes rests on a tree’s highest branches or on electrical wires.
  • Is exclusively vegetarian. The finch eats seeds, buds, and fruit. It is one of the rare birds that feed its young nothing but plants.
  • Has adapted to all kinds of environments. In the city, it can be seen in public places, parks, yards, and gardens. It nests in bushes, groves, natural cavities, and even on buildings.
  • During courtship, the male pretends to feed the female several times before regurgitating into her beak. The female finch builds the nest.
  • Certain finches face the rigours of winter while others briefly migrate south.

Relationship

  • The house finch comes from the western United States. In the 1940s, a New York State storekeeper who was illegally keeping finches in captivity set several free. Populations are increasing; in certain areas there are now more finches than there are house sparrows, another introduced species.
  • Like other invasive birds, we could consider the finch to be troublesome, but it is quite charming and sings beautifully.
  • Fruit and cereal growers have valid reasons to dislike it since flocks of finches can cause significant damage to crops.

Living with them

  • If you want to have them around, fill birdfeeders with small seeds of all kinds. However, be forewarned – finches will empty them very quickly!
  • The species has already been the victim of an epidemic: mycoplasmal conjunctivitis. Birdfeeders are sites conducive to the proliferation of germs. To prevent diseases from spreading, regularly disinfect birdfeeders and wait until they are completely dry before adding new seeds.

Participating cities where this animal has been seen