BIRD OF THE WEEK / WEEK 16: April 16, 2018

© Liron Gertsman

Bird

House Finch

Species Name

Carpodacus mexicanus

Appearance

12-15 cm length | 20-25 cm wingspan | 16-27 gm weight

A small-medium sized, compact songbird with a large head, short, thick, conical-shaped bill, short wings and a long, square-tipped tail.

They are light brown with darker streaks over most of their body. The tail and wing feathers are a darker grey-brown, the eyes black and the legs and bill range from a neutral, fleshy colour to dark grey. The male has a red head, throat and chest that is more or less vibrant depending on the season. They get their red colour from the fruit in their diet. The female is brown with a streaked, pale underside.

Habitat / Behaviour

Granivore | Woodland, urban | Partially Migratory

The House Finch generally inhabits open or semi-open, un-forested or lightly wooded areas including urban and suburban environments.

The house finch is largely granivorous, foraging in the ground for the seeds of weeds including those of nettle and dandelion. They occasionally take insects such as aphids, but perhaps only incidentally. They are common visitors at bird feeders particularly when sunflower or nyjer seeds are included. House finches are one of the only species of birds who feed their young only plant matter; typically dandelion seeds.

Breeding

Breeding type | Shrubs, trees, planters nest | 3-6 colour Bluish-green eggs with black spots | 2-3 broods | Nest is cup of grasses, and rootlets lined with fine material | Common at bird feeders.

Courtship begins with the male touching his bill to the female’s. He then presents food items to her, and if she mimics a begging chick, he will feed her. Once partnered, he continues to feed her during incubation and nesting as well as being the primary feeder of the fledglings. The female is the primary feeder during the nesting period.