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House Finch

Natural History

The House Finch is about 5.25 inches long and has a conical bill and long tail for their size. Males vary somewhat in color with a head and breast ranging from pale yellow to dark red with a brown body and tail. Females are mostly brown in color with light and dark streaks. The amount of red coloring in the male depends on the amount of carotenoid pigments in the bird's diet. Females prefer the brightest and reddest males; presumably the hue and intensity of color are indications of the male's fitness. The House Finch is an abundant bird and live in habitats ranging from undisturbed desert to chaparral and open coniferous forests to cities, often choosing to live around areas populated by humans.

The red head of the House Finch in the photograph give it away as a male (likely viewed as quite the prize among females of his species due to his dark red coloring).

The bird is vegetarian and feeds on buds, seeds, and fruits. In fact they like fruit so much fruit that in parts of the West, they may be considered pests. They are strongly attracted to bird feeders (which is how I got this photo), where they prefer small sunflower seeds. When ready to mate, females construct a nest which may be placed in a variety of locations ranging from tree cavities to the vines attached to the side of a building. From 2 to 6 eggs are incubated by the female and hatch in about two weeks. Both parents care for the young who may raise more than one brood in a breeding season. Banding studies show that birds may live up to 10 years in the wild.

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