House Finch
Carpodacus mexicanus


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Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Fringillidae

Physical Characteristics

About 5-5.5 in. long. Both sexes are sparrowlike, finely streaked, and brown. Male is red on forehead, breast, and eyebrow (Cassidy, 1990).


Carpodacus mexicanus is normally found in towns, suburbs, farmlands, deserts, and thickets (Cassidy, 1990). The house finch also is found in arid scrub and brush, thorn bush, oak-juniper woodlands, cultivated lands, and savanna (American Ornithologists' Union, 1983). The nests are made of twigs, grass, debris, leaves, hair, and rootlets (Ehrlich, Dobkin, and Wheye, 1988). The nests are cup-shaped and are found 5-7 ft. above ground, sometimes in woodpecker holes or other cavities in trees, in buildings, or in dense foliage (Cassidy, 1990).

Geographic Range

This species is resident from southwestern and south-central British Columbia, western Montana, Wyoming, western Nebraska, and west-central Kansas south to southern Baja California, central Sonora, and western and south-central Texas. This species also was introduced and established in eastern North America on Long Island, New York, Vermont, Massachusetts, and Maine south to Missouri, Tennessee, Georgia, and South Carolina, and northwest to Wisconsin (American Ornithologists' Union, 1983).


Diet consists of seeds, fruit, buds, and bread crumbs (Cassidy, 1990). This species consumes virtually no insects and feeds almost entirely on seeds (Ehrlich, et al., 1988).

Reproductive Characteristics

Breeding activity consists of a singing male following the female with flittering wings; during courtship, both the male and the female continue to sing. Females lay 2-6 eggs which are blue or blue-green, speckled with brown, gray, purple, and occasionally black. The eggs are about 24 mm in length (Ehrlich, et al., 1988). Incubation is 12-14 days by the female, and the young leave the nest 11-19 days after hatching (Cassidy, 1990).


House finches are protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty, which forbids their capture and sale. This species was resident only in the western states until 1941, when it was introduced into New York City and, since then, the progeny of those birds have been abundant over the eastern and southeastern states and continue to spread across the continent (Cassidy, 1990).

Literature Cited

American Ornithologists' Union. 1983. Checklist of North American birds, 6th edition. Allen Press, Lawrence, 877 pp.

Cassidy, J., ed. 1990. Book of North American birds. Reader's Digest, New York, 576 pp.

Ehrlich, P., D. Dobkin, and D. Wheye. 1988. The birder's handbook. Simon and Schuster, New York, 785 pp.


Lorraine Bueno, July 1995.

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