• BirdForum is the net's largest birding community dedicated to wild birds and birding, and is absolutely FREE!

    Register for an account to take part in lively discussions in the forum, post your pictures in the gallery and more.

House Finch - BirdForum Opus

Male
Photo © by skiel
Orange County, New York, USA, 12 March 2006
Haemorhous mexicanus

Carpodacus mexicanus

Identification

Female
Photo © by Joseph Morlan
Pacifica, San Mateo County, California, USA, 30 March 2020

L. 5-6" (13-15 cm)
Male

  • Bright red on crown, breast, and rump (some individuals duller more pink depending on diet)
  • A yellow carotinoid variant is sometimes seen (photo below).

Female

  • Plain, unstriped head
  • Heavy streaking on light underside

Immature males
Less highly coloured, often orangish or yellowish on head and breast

Similar Species

Male Purple Finch and Cassin's Finch lack brown flank streaking and have a shorter more notched tail. Females of both have pale eyebrow and malar lacking in female House Finch.

Variations

The yellow carotinoid variant
Photo © by digishooter
Kern Co, CA, USA, 14 May 2011

In north-west Mexico is a region where House Finch males are extensively red and with much less brownish streaking on the underside[2] (probably subspecies ruberrimus).

Distribution

Western North America, Canada to southern Mexico. Introduced (H. m. frontalis) to eastern North America and (nominate) to Hawaii.

Taxonomy

Formerly placed in genus Carpodacus.

Subspecies

Variant male
Photo © by Gus Hallgren
Green Valley, Arizona, USA, 26 February 2010

This is a polytypic species consisting of twelve subspecies[1]:

  • H. m. frontalis: South-western Canada to western US, Baja California and north-western Mexico
  • H. m. clementis: Channel Islands (off southern California) and Los Coronados Islands (off northern Baja)
  • H. m. amplus: Guadalupe Island (off Baja California)
  • H. m. ruberrimus: Southern Baja California and north-western Mexico (Sonora, southern Sinaloa and south-western Chihuahua)
  • H. m. rhodopnus: Arid tropical central Sinaloa
  • H. m. coccineus: Mountains of south-western Mexico (southern Nayarit and western Zacatecas to western Michoacán)
  • H. m. potosinus: Southern Texas (Rio Grande Valley) to Chihuahua and south-western Tamaulipas
  • H. m. centralis: Central Mexican plateau (Guanajuato, Querétaro and adjacent states)
  • H. m. mexicanus: South central Mexican plateau (eastern Michoacán to Hidalgo and Oaxaca)
  • H. m. roseipectus: Southern Mexico (southern Puebla and Valley of Oaxaca)
  • H.. m. griscomi: South-western Mexico (Sierra Madre del Sur of Guerrero)
  • H. m. mcgregori: Formerly San Benito and Cedros island (off Baja California). Extinct

Habitat

Flight
Photo © by Lorenz_C
Las Vegas, Nevada, USA, 3 October 2020

Deserts, orchards, coastal valleys and forests.

Behaviour

Male - Display
Photo © by D. Taylor
Wayne County, North Carolina, USA, 30 April 2021

Frequently seen sitting high up on utility wires or other exposed perches.

Breeding

A tightly woven, compact nest is made and set in a bush, thicket, natural cavity, or on a building. The clutch contains 3-5 bluish, lightly streaked or spotted eggs.

Diet

Diet consists mainly of seeds, buds and fruit, with the addition of some insects.

Vocalisation

Male sings throughout the year (except during moult, from late July to October). Song may be given in flight or from perch; an unstructured jumble, higher-pitched than Purple Finch or Cassin's Finch and and concluding with a distinct down-slurred note. Female may give a simpler version of song. Common call is a cheep or cheet, often given in flight. Also a sharp chirp, recalling House Sparrow.

Movements

Photo © by 1micalngelo
Story Mill, Montana, USA, 9 April 2021

Resident, migratory and dispersive. Prior to 1945 those in western part of range occupied breeding areas between late March/early April and September with altitudinal movements to lower levels and plains; sometimes irruptive, wandering throughout range south to Texas and Mexico. Breeders in the northeast part of range move longer distances south & southwest the southern parts of their breeding range. Banding studies show adult females move longer distances on average than males. Most movements diurnal and determined by the availability of food.

References

  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, S. M. Billerman, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2019. The eBird/Clements Checklist of Birds of the World: v2019. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Birdforum thread discussing redder House Finch in Mexico
  3. Clement, P. (2020). House Finch (Haemorhous mexicanus). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from https://www.hbw.com/node/61389 on 4 April 2020).
  4. Badyaev, A. V., V. Belloni, and G. E. Hill (2020). House Finch (Haemorhous mexicanus), version 1.0. In Birds of the World (A. F. Poole, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bow.houfin.01
  5. Clement, P., A. Harris, and J. Davis. (1993) Finches and Sparrows: An Identification Guide. Princeton Univ. Press, Princeton, N. J. ISBN 0-69103-424-9

Recommended Citation

External Links


Top