Adult males typically have a red head, breast, and rump, with a streaky brown-black belly and tail. Female house finches are not red and have blurrier streaks and grayer undersides. The female house finch looks mostly brown but has some white feathers showing on her sides and back.
House finches, particularly males, can look very different from one another. This is largely due to differences in their diet rather than regional differences.
House Finch Life Stages
House finches breed between March and August. A breeding pair may have as many as six clutches of eggs in one summer, but usually only have three. Females build a shallow, cup-shaped nest in shrubs, eaves, tree cavities, buildings, hanging plants, and tree branches. Females lay 3-6 bluish or greenish-white eggs that possess black speckled spots.
Both parents tend to the young which will leave the nest in 12-19 days. The male continues to feed the fledglings for two weeks while the female builds a new nest and begins raising the next brood. After they become independent, young house finches form large flocks that will be able to breed the following spring.
Threats of Finches
House finches prefer to live outdoors but are known to build nests in chimneys, attics, garages, and dryer vents which offer exceptional conditions for nesting. These birds love seeds and fruit and when foraging for food, they can cause significant damage to fruit trees and shrubs in your yard. They also can create quite a mess in the form of droppings and nesting debris scattered on your property.
Most house finch damage is the result of their food-seeking behaviors as they peck at ripening fruit and eat the seeds of various plants. They also love to eat budding blossoms and flowers which can be quite frustrating to gardeners.
House Finch Prevention and Control
House finches are protected by the Federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act as migratory, non-game birds. Prevention and exclusion are the primary actions homeowners can take to deter house finches from nesting on their property. Take the following actions to prevent house finches from constructing nests on your property:
- Avoid planting fruit, seed, or nut-bearing trees on your property.
- Block entrances to dryer vents, chimneys, cracks, crevices, and holes in a home with wire mesh, wood scraps, or other barriers that can keep birds from nesting. Check to make sure there are no birds nesting before blocking holes.
- Eaves or wood siding of buildings can be netted by a pest professional with nylon or plastic netting to exclude birds.
- House finches can be discouraged from feeding on flowers and fruit trees by wrapping plants in netting.
- Prune branches near structures where birds are roosting, as they will feel more exposed and vulnerable.
- Visual repellents can sometimes be useful in scaring house finches away from buildings. Plastic twirlers, toy windmills, and Mylar strips have been reported to give good positive results.
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