HOUSE FINCH (Haemorhous mexicanus)
DESCRIPTION: The House Finch is a small passerine bird that measures around 12 cm (5 in.) long. The male has a reddish head, throat and breast. The back, wings and underside are streaked brown. Females have no red and are streaked brown, so they can be easily confused with purple finch females.
SIMILAR SPECIES: The house finch can be confused with the slightly larger Purple Finch. One distinction is the type of red – the latter looks like it was ‘dipped in raspberry juice’, whereas the red color of the former is more in the red-orange spectrum.
NAME: The word ‘mexicanus’ in the Latin name indicates the origin of this bird, mainly Mexico.
HABITAT: In its native habitat it lives in desert grasslands and the savannah.
DIET: As its conical bill indicates, this bird is mainly a seed eater. It is attracted to bird feeders.
NESTING: Exceptionally for a bird, this finch will only feed a vegetarian diet to their young.
ON PEI: Although the house finch breeds on PEI, only occasional sightings have been reported so far. The Maritimes are located at the northeast end of its current breeding range, and the species is only found in and near inhabited areas.
DISTRIBUTION: The house finch is a year-round resident in Mexico and the western USA. It was introduced to Hawaii in the 1800s, and is now widespread in that state. It was introduced in the New York area in the 1940s. Since then they have established themselves in the whole eastern half of the USA, as well as southern and eastern Canada.
CONSERVATION: House finches are listed as of ‘least concern’, as their numbers are in the hundreds of millions.