House Finch

Carpodacus mexicanus

A bright red and brown-striped bird of the cities and suburbs, the House Finch comes readily to feeders. It also breeds in close association with people, and often chooses a hanging plant in which to put its nest.

Interesting Information

  • The House Finch was originally a bird of the southwestern United States and Mexico. In 1940 a small number of finches were turned loose on Long Island, New York, and they quickly started breeding. They spread across the entire eastern United States and southern Canada within the next 50 years.

  • The red or yellow color of a male House Finch comes from pigments that it gets in its food during molt. The more pigment in the food, the redder the male. Females prefer to mate with the reddest male they can find, perhaps assuring that they get a capable male who can find enough food to feed the nestlings.

  • When nestling House Finches defecate, the feces are contained in a membranous sac, as in most birds. The parents eat the fecal sacs of the nestlings for about the first five days. In most songbird species, when the parents stop eating the sacs, they carry the sacs away and dispose of them. But House Finch parents do not remove them, and the sacs accumulate around the rim of the nest.


Adult Description

  • Size: 13-14 cm (5-6 in)

  • Wingspan: 20-25 cm (8-10 in)

  • Weight: 16-27 g (0.56-0.95 ounces)

  • Medium-sized finch.

  • Male bright red on head, chest, and rump; female brown and striped.

  • Bill short and thick, with rounded top edge.

  • Two thin white wingbars.

  • Tail with square tip.

  • Underparts streaked brown and white.

  • Eyes black.

  • Legs dark brown.

Sex Differences

Male red, female grayish brown with stripes.


Crown, eyebrow stripe, throat, chest, and rump bright red to pale yellow. Flanks whitish with heavy brown stripes. Back, wings, and tail brown.


Grayish brown overall, with blurry streaks on chest and sides. Face all brown, with no eyestripe.


Juvenile similar to female, but with more fluffy feathers and more distinct wingbars.


Photo taken from: The Sibley Field Guide by David Allen Sibley

© 2003 Cornell Lab of Ornithology


In the East, found almost exclusively in urban and suburban habitats, especially in areas with buildings, lawn, and small conifers. In West, found around people, but also in desert, chaparral, oak savanna, riparian areas, and open coniferous forests.


Forages in small flocks, usually in trees, but often on ground. Uses feeders extensively.


Buds, seeds, and fruits.



Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
     Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Fringillidae
    Subfamily: Carduelinae
Genus: Carpodacus
Species: Carpodacus mexicanus
    Subspecies: Carpodacus mexicanus amplus
  Carpodacus mexicanus centralis
  Carpodacus mexicanus clementis
  Carpodacus mexicanus coccineus
  Carpodacus mexicanus frontalis
  Carpodacus mexicanus griscomi
  Carpodacus mexicanus mcgregori
  Carpodacus mexicanus mexicanus
  Carpodacus mexicanus potosinus
  Carpodacus mexicanus rhodopnus
  Carpodacus mexicanus roseipectus
  Carpodacus mexicanus ruberrimus

Similar Species

  • Purple Finch has bill more pointed, tail shorter and notched. Male Purple Finch darker red, with red on nape, back and flanks. Undertail coverts unstreaked. Female Purple Finch with obvious white eyestripe and malar stripe, broader streaks on white breast and flanks, and unstreaked undertail coverts.

  • Cassin's Finch has more pointed bill, and tail is shorter and slightly notched. Male's flanks are reddish and lack brown streaking. Female Cassin's Finch with more pronounced facial pattern, distinct blackish streaks on chest and back, and streaked undertail coverts. For more discussion on distinguishing these three species, developed by Project FeederWatch, go here.

  • Female House Sparrow has a streaked back, a bold eyestripe, and an unstreaked breast.

  • Pine Siskin has a more pointed bill, heavily streaked upperparts, a deeply notched tail, and has yellow edging on the wings and tail.

Bird Sound

Song a hoarse warble that goes up and down rapidly. Call note a sharp "cheep."

Eggs look like this

Photo taken from: ARCTOS Collaborative Collection Management Solution