House finch makes itself at home

Sunday, February 13, 2011

A native North American bird, the house finch can be found in Mexico, parts of southern Canada and parts of all continental states in the U.S. except possibly North Dakota. The house finch is a nonmigratory bird.

Originally, the house finch existed only in Mexico and the American west. They were successfully introduced to Hawaii in the late 1800s. During the 1940s a small number of house finches were released on Long Island, N.Y. From there they spread westward and by the mid-1980s they reached Missouri.

Today in Southeast Missouri the house finch is a common sight at winter bird feeders that offer small sunflower and thistle seeds. Their natural food is weed seeds, grain and soft fruits.

Outdoor hanging house plants and elevated flower pots are good nest sites for house finches. The eggs are glossy, very light blue-green and have a few black spots. Nest building can begin as early as late February or as soon as the weather shows signs of warming. Parent house finches will collect dandelion seed to feed their young.

Through the Woods is a weekly nature photo column by Aaron Horrell. Find this column at semissourian.com to order a reprint of the photo. Find more work by him at the O'Tenem Gallery.

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