The House Finch was originally a bird of the southwestern United States and Mexico. In 1940 a small number of finches were turned loose on Long Island, New York, and they quickly started breeding.
They spread across the entire eastern United States and southern Canada within the next 50 years.
Today the two populations are close to meeting in the Prairie states.
A bright red and brown-striped bird, this finch comes readily to feeders. It also breeds in close association with people, and often chooses a hanging plant or decorative wreath in which to put its nest.
The male has a length of about 5 1/2 inches, with red on the head, upper breast and flanks. In some regions the color red may be replaced with yellow or orange. This is due to the differences in regional diets.
The female has a uniformly brown-streaked head with broad brown streaking on the breast and belly. The under tail coverts are usually unstreaked.
the untrained eye may think the female is a species of sparrow.
During courtship, the female finch will work the males for food looking for prospective mates. The males either mock feed or actually regurgitate food in the female's mouth.
During the mating season, males may be seen carrying sticks or other nesting material in their bills.
As with most songbirds, they are monogamous.
One interesting detail is that the males will defend their female mate rather than a nesting territory as other birds do.
Although bird watchers may see the male with nesting material, the female builds the actual nest.
The nest is cup shaped and made of twigs, grasses, and leaves. These finches will nest in a variety of artificial and natural cavities such as old woodpecker holes, hanging plants, decorative wreaths, in your gardens and occasionally birdhouses.
The nest is located 5 to 7 feet above ground.
The female lays 2 to 6 bluish with fine speckling eggs. Incubation is done by the female for 12 to 14 days and the young will leave the nest in about 11 to 19 days after hatching.
During the incubation time and for about five days after the young have hatched, the male, will feed the female on the nest. He does this by regurgitating seed into the females mouth.
The female regurgitates the food to the nestlings.
After the young have fledged, the parents continue to feed the young. The female may find a new mate and raise another brood while the male continues to feed the young.
These finches have been known to raise more than two broods in a season.
Much like Goldfinches, House finches are vegetarians.
Their diet consist of seeds, fruit, buds,and weed seeds. Even during the breeding season these birds regurgitate seeds to their young.
The Finch forages both on the ground and in trees. Bird watchers can easily attract this bird to feeders by offering sunflower seed in a variety of feeders.
In the winter months, House finches form lose flock and converge with a similar looking bird, their cousin the Purple finch"
House finches often contract Avian Conjunctivitis.
Conjunctivitis (Pink eye for you and me) is usually fatal for the birds as their eyes swell shut.
As with any outbreak, it is wise to keep your feeders clean and possibly remove them for a few weeks.