The New Finch on the Block

From dawn to dusk, I am serenaded by House Finches in my yard. I’ve got bird feeders front and back, and hence House Finches front and back. They seem to sing louder just before or after a rainstorm, so they’ve been real vocal lately!

These melodic crooners are relatively new to my yard here in southern Alberta. About five years ago I had one bird, the following year I had 5, then I had 13… I no longer bother to count as they’re everywhere.

Male house finch

Male House Finch

Originally a resident of the southwestern USA, house finches were introduced to eastern North America in the 1940’s. Sold as Hollywood Finches, a great marketing gimic, they were eventually released and spread across the entire eastern USA and southern Canada in the next 50 years.

They have become naturalized throughout eastern North America, and are spreading westward. The western population is also spreading eastward, and the two populations of these adaptable birds are now meeting in the Great Plains.

In many areas, they have displaced the House Sparrow, itself an immigrant from Europe. House Finches are one of the few birds aggressive enough to evict House Sparrows from their nests, and as my House Finch population grew, the House Sparrow population in my yard dropped.

Originally inhabitants of undisturbed habitats, they have adapted to areas altered by humans, and their rapid spread has been made easier by the large number of bird feeders put out by bird-loving humans.

Unfortunately, they have also displaced the native Purple Finch in some areas. The male House Finch can be told from Cassin’s and Purple Finches by its streaked belly, browner back and nape, longer unforked tail and different call notes. Female House Finches have much plainer faces than the other finches.

It’s a good thing I enjoy the cheerful melodies of the House Finches, as I think they’re here to stay.

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5 thoughts on “The New Finch on the Block

  1. I lived in northwest Calgary until 2003, and I never saw a House Finch there. I live in the southeast now, and I saw my first one in our yard in June 2004. Since then their numbers have steadily increased. They are a year-round visitor to my feeders, and I think they slightly outnumber the House Sparrows now. And they do have a beautiful song.

  2. I saw a huge flock of these finches on the path behind the Rockyview hospital last week. I have just discovered your blog and am excited to learn more about identifying birds and their songs.

  3. In Cambrian heights n.w. I first noticed these 3 years ago. It took til now to ID them. I have no feeders but I see them early in the spring and summer in my nanking cherry bush outside the living room window. Eating last year’s dry cherries and enjoying the warm sun no doubt.

  4. in nw royal oak and have a crew of beautiful purple finches settling in this year, with the odd yellow finch, love their song

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