Photo credit: Mike Carlo/U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

House finches tend to be overlooked and underappreciated. Perhaps it’s because they are so common. Or maybe it’s because they aren’t as flashy or gregarious as other birds. But have you ever heard them sing? While house finches are small birds, they sing rich, melodic song that floats across the neighborhood. I’m always so impressed how such a tiny thing can make such a big sound. They like to fly to a high perch and belt out a complex song for a LONG time. It took me years to realize that the magical sounds in my back yard were largely from finches.

Another reason I like finches? They are at the feeder day in and day out, 365 days a year. Okay, on the below zero days they stay hunkered wherever they hunker. But the rest of the time, the finches bring life to my yard even throughout the cold, dark winter. It’s the tiny finches and the chickadees who stick around. Small but mighty!

House finches were originally native to just the southwest. However, pet shop owners tried to sell them in New York (illegally). Apparently there wasn’t much of a demand for finches (poor overlooked and underappreciated birds!), so they were released in 1940. Being the hardy little creatures they are, they survived, bred, and thrived. Eventually they spread up and down the east coast, and westward until they met their western kin. They are now present across the continental US. They were even introduced to Oahu, and now thrive on all of the Hawaiian islands.

END NOTE: If you want to identify birds near you by their song or call, or by picture, try the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Merlin Bird ID app. My son once put his phone outside to record the songs of birds nearby – the app identified 19 different species! It’s also how I found out that finches have such an amazing song.