The most common visitors to my feeders are house finches. Admittedly, they became part of the landscape as I kept my eye out for new or rarer birds. But this past weekend I decided to take my own advice (part of a picture book I’m working on) and I took some time to get to know my feathered neighbors. And while house finches may be common, they are amazing little birds.
House finches are native to the western US and Mexico but were brought to New England (to be sold as pets) and later set free in 1939. Now they are one of the most widespread birds in North America. These little birds are extremely adaptable and can thrive in a variety of habitats, from deserts to woodlands, and grasslands to urban areas. They will also nest in all kinds of places, such as cacti, hanging planters, pine trees, deciduous trees, rock ledges, and windowsills. Did I mention adaptable?
Here’s where it gets even more interesting. House finches differ in appearance – they vary by the size of their bills and bodies, by wing and tail length, and by color. Their coloring comes from the food they eat, thus the reason some house finches are more yellow or orange. Of course females are attracted to the reddest males, which to them signals that those individuals are healthy and will do their part tending to young. Not only that, house finches, across the country have different accents – some songs are short while others are long, and some have more syllables than others. In New York state, studies found that these accents even differed within one square mile. differ in appearance. But no matter where you live, the finches and their songs are a welcome addition to any neighborhood!