Article and pictures by Kathryn Mann
Until 1940 the beautiful male House Finch was found only in popular pet stores in most of the United States, and was called the Hollywood Finch because of its striking good looks. The only place they could be found in the wild then was the American southwest. Like the Common Sparrow and European Starling they were released in New York City starting in the 1940s, and have since spread to every region of the country.
Male House Finch enjoying some grass
House Finches are slender and about 5 1/2 inches in length. Males have a red crown, upper breast, and rear. Their wings, back, and tail are brown. Females are primarily grayish-brown which is streaked on their sides and breast.
Female House Finch in my Mulberry Tree (May 2010)
House Finches eat seeds, grains, and fruit. I often see them feasting on sunflowers and thistle throughout eastern Oklahoma. They are also regular visitors to my mulberry tree when its berries are ripe.
The female House Finch is the primary builder of their nest, though the male often brings much of the grass, weeds, and twigs used for its construction.
House Finch surveying his surroundings for seeds and other foods
Even though House Finches are small birds it is not uncommon for them to live ten years.