The house finch is a small passerine bird that is part of the family Fringillidae. They are generally seen hanging onto the food source their eating from, perched or scavenging the ground for food.
Some General Characteristics
The birds are rarely seen walking. They are known for their hopping abilities, they will place both feet together and hop from location to location..
The birds have rounder heads, forked or notched tails, conical bills for seed crushing abilities, they sing beautiful songs and are hardy cold weather birds that may be seen in flocks foraging for food in fields, valleys and woodlands.
Male House Finch
- Bright red on forehead, throat, and breast
- Brown wings and back
- Brown streaking on flanks
- Thick grayish bill
Female House Finch
- Brown and streaked with brown and white
- Thick grayish bill
Finch Feeder Favorites
Crushed egg shells
You can provide a wide variety of feeding favorites because the birds in the finch family eat everything from seed to dandelion greens.
Leafy Greens – Provide your feathered friends with leafy greens. They will eat dandelion greens, romaine lettuce, spring mixes, spinach, parsley, cilantro, mustard greens and collard greens. When feeding any of the choices be sure the greens are washed and free of pesticides.
Egg Shells – Egg shells provide birds with calcium. Calcium for birds is the same as humans, it builds strong bones. But, many birds get enough natural sources during times when plant matter is in heavy growth. A strong exception to this rule is during nesting season. Egg-laying females need that extra calcium to help form strong eggshells and they are busy building nests and doing double duty. In this case, because I can, I provide extra calcium for them – being a female myself and all, I can relate 🙂
Fruits – Finch love an assortment of fruits. You can try apples, pears, grapes, pumpkin, and peaches as a treat to add on to your seed feeders. Cut the fruits in small, bite sized pieces and only add a handful at a time to keep them from overeating. You want to keep the balance in check of a 75% seed to fruit ratio. Like us, some will choose more fruits and over-indulge. You want to keep a healthy balance.
Salt Blocks – A finch loves a feeder that provides a salt block. Salt is a mineral that birds, deer, squirrels, rabbits and a few additional animals need to a properly break down food in their diet. An animal will search out a salt block when it is lacking the element in their diet. Salt helps animals break down seeds and food so that they can digest their food more easily. Is is not necessary to provide one – but it is nice to offer them one on occasion.
Nectar: It is not uncommon to see a house finch sipping nectar from a hummingbird feeder. During the winter months, they actively seek out maple trees and will snack on the sap.
The nesting habits of all finches are basically the same. They will seek out anything they believe to be safe from predators. The house finch, which is the most common type of finch will build nests of grass, stick and feathers in anything from your hanging planter to old animal homes in hollowed out trees and even old bird nests if you leave them up from year to year. The female does the nest building and the shape in normally a cupped shape.
When Do They Breed?
In Wisconsin the house finch will lay her eggs between March and August and house finch couples will successfully raise up to three broods a year. They can try for additional, but for the most part they are only successful in up to three attempts a year.
About the Eggs
A female house finch will lay between 3-6 eggs. The eggs range from a blue-ish coloring to a greenish white with black speckled spots on the large end of the egg.
Who Cares For the Nest & Feeds the Young
The female will sit on the nest until the eggs hatch and then stay a few days in the nest with the young. During the first few days, the male will bring food to the mother and the mother will feed regurgitated food to the young. After the first few days the mother will join the father in the hunt for food.
If you want to please momma and daddy house finch, leave plenty of plant based, pesticide free food at your feeders during the time they are raising their young. House Finches are one of the only birds that exclusively feed their young a vegetarian diet.
Assorted Zazzle Artists
I had no clue that house finches only fed a vegetarian diet to their young until they nested in my hanging basket on my deck last year. Right next to their “new” basket home were the planting containers I grew my parsley, a variety of lettuce, spinach, cilantro and collard greens. Daddy didn’t have to go far each morning to get the kids fed. He had a wealth of choice directly under the nest. SMARTY PANTS!
How Long Do The Young Stay
Generally, the young leave the nest after about 13-16 days. But, dad may still feed them for a few weeks after leaving. If you have nesting finches it is not uncommon to see the babies hopping around in the yard a few days after leaving the nest. They slowly gravitate to the trees.
Because of the heavy growth of conifers around our home – it never fails that I lose at least one one hanging basket a year to raising a family of finches. Last year I closely followed a family and momma and daddy were comfortable with me checking in every few days. It was a fun bird watching year.