The house finch, as anyone with a bird feeder knows, is an extremely common resident in our area. It is highly adaptable to many habitats, but its rapid distribution throughout the northeast—and its comfort level around humans—may be related to its affinity for bird feeders. It is actually among the top eight most common birds found at feeders throughout the United States.
The house finch is a relatively recent addition to the northeast. The species is originally from Mexico and southern California, and quickly spread throughout the eastern ecosystem after birds from the pet trade were released in New York state in the 1940s. The museum’s banding records show that the first house finch ever banded at Powdermill arrived as recently as 1975.
The house finch’s color may range from red to golden yellow, depending on the type of seed it ate while molting. However, research shows that females prefer to breed with the reddest males—perhaps because the red color indicates the male will be adept at finding appropriate food sources for future nestlings.