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House Finch

Facts about the house finch you might not know

HOUSE FINCH

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.

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS OF FINCHES

• 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
• 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
Breadcrumbs
Crushed egg shells
Niger seed
Fruits 
Sunflower seed
Millet
Nectar 
Leafy Greens
Vegetables
Salt blocks




You can provide a wide variety of feeding favorites because the birds in the finch family eat everything from seed to dandelion greens.  


PROVIDE YOUR FEATHERED FRIENDS WITH LEAFY GREENS
• Dandelion greens
• Romaine lettuce
• Spring mixes
• Spinach
• Parsley
• Cilantro
• Mustard greens
• Collard greens

When feeding any of the choices be sure the greens are washed and free of pesticides.

Dandelion Greens - If picking dandelion greens from your yard make sure you are not using broad based weed killer to treat your lawn.

If picking dandelion greens from your yard make sure you are not using broad-based weed killer to treat your lawn.


EGGSHELLS PROVIDE BIRDS WITH CALCIUM

• Calcium for birds is the same as humans, it builds strong bones.
• 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 🙂

 

FINCH LOVE AN ASSORTMENT OF FRUIT. ADD AS A TREAT.

• Apples
• Pears
• Grapes
• Pumpkin
• Peaches

SERVING FRUIT
• Cut the fruits into small, bite-sized pieces
• Add only add a handful at a time to keep them from overeating
• You want to keep the balance in check for a 75% seed to fruit ratio.

Like us, some will choose more fruits and over-indulge.  You want to keep a healthy balance.


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 properly break down food into 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.
• It 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.
•  Will nest in 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.

• A 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.

Day One Baby House Finches in the Nest

Day One Baby House Finches in the Nest

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 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.

THE LITTLE VEGETARIANS
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 was 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!

 

Day Four Baby House Finches in the Nest

Day Four Baby House Finches in the Nest

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.

Day 14 - Baby House Finch Getting Ready for First Flight

Day 14 – Baby House Finch Getting Ready for First Flight

Because of the heavy growth of conifers around our home – it never fails that I lose at least 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.

Additional Posts: 

Using antiques as unique planters – Give items a second life by using antiques as unique planters and containers. Some picture ideas to get your thoughts cycling. Mostly antiques but some additional containers too. 10 Wildflowers that Attract Birds
Testing Soil for Lead Keep Ants Away From Hummingbird Feeder

 

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