Definitions for words are important in any discussion about finches. Taxonomically speaking, true finches are tiny to medium-sized passerine birds that belong to the Fringillidae family. The families Cardinalidae and Thraupidae also contain more birds that are “finch-like” (and called “finches,” for instance, in some early Peterson Field Guides).
All of these birds have “Passerine” feet, which have three toes facing forward and one backward and are designed for perching. The superfamily Passeroidea includes these three families.
It should be noted that many popular wild bird guides may not agree with the scientific names used in this debate. The precise connections (and hence generic names) of many birds in this group have been the subject of disagreement and ongoing dispute among ornithologists.
The names displayed appear to be the official names used in science today. In Florida, seven species of “finches” may be present as year-round inhabitants or seasonal migrant species (see Table). It’s possible that three more finches will accidentally or through transplantation show up in Florida.
These are all tiny to medium-sized birds with sturdy conical bills for eating seeds that are frequently colorful.
And fortunately, it’s not too difficult to get American Goldfinches to bird feeders! Try putting out some of their preferred meals, such as sunflower kernels and Nyjer seed, which many other birds avoid.
Additionally useful are bird feeders made specifically for goldfinches. Larger “bullies” can readily scare these little birds away. They’ll value having areas that are solely accessible to them! They can feed in any posture, including upside down, which I find appealing.
American Goldfinches only eat plants as food. It is uncommon for birds to only eat seeds and have no access to insects. Naturally, they feed on the seeds of various plants, grasses, thistles, sunflowers, and asters.
American Goldfinches breed later than other birds because of their diet. To make sure there is enough food for them to feed their young, they wait until June or July, when the majority of plants are in full seed production.
Greater Antillean Bullfinch
Jamaica and the Greater Antillean islands are home to the Greater Antillean Bullfinch.
The body of this bull finch is dark gray or black, while its eyebrow, neck, and vent are orange-red in color.
Range: The Bahamas, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Jamaica, and the Turks and Caicos Islands are all home to the Greater Antillean bullfinch.
Additional Information: They like lowland shrubland and dry, damp subtropical or tropical climates. Although they are frequent on the Bahamas islands, Florida has not yet received a report of them. It appears the someone would finally reach the Florida Keys where they will be recognized as vagrants.
The Bahamas, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Jamaica, and Turks and Caicos Islands are home to the Greater Antillean Bullfinch (Loxigilla violacea). They live in lowland and montane dry and wet forests, shrubland, and severely degraded former forests in subtropical or tropical climates.
The kind of beak a finch has affects what it eats. Because seeds are the primary source of food for House Finches, they have a seed-feeding beak. The black oil sunflower seed is the most popular seed among them. They also consume particular fruit and flower varieties, such as cherries and thistle.
Only extremely little birds with a narrow weight range are House Finches. They weigh between 16 and 27g, and their wingspan is a meager 20 to 25 cm.
Finches have significant sexual dimorphism. The backs of male House Finches are covered in dark brown feathers and have cherry red plumage. The whole body of the females of this species is covered in streaked grey and brown feathers.
These birds frequently use feeders that people have built and put, preferring to eat and perch there when possible. They frequently remain on the ground and eat whatever food that other finches may have left behind if they do not have access to a bird feeder.
A male will woo a female during mating season by feeding her after she pecks his peak.
These birds are nevertheless extremely sociable outside of the breeding season and may occasionally form flocks of up to 100 individuals.
Males and females communicate with each other by making a sharp “cheep” sounds both when they are perched and while they are in flight.
Finches may be found in Florida’s northwestern region. They may be seen all year long, and when they are in the west of North America, they can be seen in their native, wild environment in addition to being regular visitors to backyards and city parks. Deserts and grasslands are examples of these natural environments.
The easiest technique to get House Finches to your garden is to set up a suitable feeder in the back yard.
If your garden has a sunflower seed feeder and a water supply, these finches will probably come.
Suet and nectar feeders will also appeal to them and draw them in. Your chances of attracting and observing a House Finch significantly enhance if you have a range of bird feeders in your garden.
In the summer, evening grosbeaks move to Florida’s northern regions. They move in large groups, numbering in the hundreds.
The Evening Grosbeak’s mature male has golden yellow feathers. The majority of its head, tail, and some of its wings are all black. Yellow paints the forehead in a band. The hues of mature females are not as vivid and distinct as those of men.
Dark grey dominates her top and light grey dominates her body. Her wings and tail are black with white specks on them. She could also have a tiny bit of pale yellow on her body. Both birds have pronounced beaks that are bright in hue.
The bird makes a loud, distinctive sound. They consume fruits, berries, seeds, and insect larvae. They enjoy flying around in the trees when they are not in backyards hunting for feeders.
Pine Siskin (Carduelis pinus)
Small birds known as pine siskins, which may be found all throughout the United States and into Canada, are roughly the size of an American goldfinch.
Adults of both sexes have noticeable strong striping throughout and are brown on the upperparts and whitish on the underparts. The brief tail forks. They have conical bills, although they are longer and more slender than those of other finches.
Range: The Pine Siskin’s breeding territory encompasses the western highlands of the United States, Canada, and Alaska. All of the southern tier states, including all of Florida, are within their winter range.
Additional Information: In response to seed harvests, this migratory finch travels far and irregularly across the continent each winter. Open forest canopies, deciduous woods and thickets, meadows, grasslands, weedy fields, roadside vegetation, gardens, lawns, and seed feeders are among the preferred feeding habitats.
Pine Siskins enter southern and eastern North America in erratic migrations known as irruptions every couple of years.
These birds have bills that are made specifically for cracking open various seeds. Safflower and black oil sunflower seeds are among their favorites. They occasionally devour flower buds and take pleasure in sipping nectar.
At 18-32g, Purple Finches are just little heavier than House Finches. Their wingspans, which vary from 22 to 26 cm, are likewise rather modest.
Contrary to its name, the Purple Finch does not actually have brilliant purple feathers all over it. Instead, the color of their feathers is more like a rich raspberry. The only animals with these vivid feathers covering their head and breast are males.
Females lack red and have white bellies and brown feathers with streaking. These finches like to build their nests on coniferous trees, and the female is in charge of gathering different twigs and vines for the nest.
Although they would first put on a show before attacking, these birds are actually highly ferocious. One bird leans forward and points its bill at the other bird to initiate this conflict.
They could then stand up, hover over the other bird, and tip their bill down at them if the other bird does not retreat. Although genuine pecking attacks are uncommon, females often prevail in these conflicts.
The males will sing a gentle melody to the females during mating season. As they sing, they will jump about and fluff their feathers in an effort to entice the female.
These finches may be found throughout Florida’s northern areas, albeit where exactly varies on the time of year. Purple finches will avoid habitations and populated regions in the summer.
They like staying in dense, wet coniferous woods. When food is limited in the winter, you are far more likely to see one in your backyard since they depend considerably more on artificial bird feeders.
Make sure to keep a variety of feeders available during the winter if you want to see a Purple Finch in your garden.
Try to have feeders with a perching stoop rather than a platform since these birds prefer to perch as they eat.
Safflower seed added to these feeders increases your likelihood of spotting one. Even if they also like black oil sunflower seeds, other birds will be drawn to them and discourage purple finches.
A little seed-eating member of the Cardinalidae family, the indigo bunting is a cardinal.
The mature male, which Peterson (1980) refers to as a “little finch,” is mostly bright cerulean blue in color. Indigo only exists in the brain.
The margins of the black wings and tail are cerulean blue. The male’s blue body and head feathers have brown borders throughout the fall and winter, which overlap to give the impression that the bird is mainly brown. The mature female has lighter brown underparts and browner upperparts.
It has vague wing bars and deeper underside patterns that are streaked. The juvenile bird’s coloration mirrors that of the female. Legs and feet are either gray or black.
Range: The Indigo Bunting migrates, spending the breeding season from southern Canada to northern Florida and the winter from southern Florida to northern South America. Farmland, brushy regions, and open woods make up its habitat.
You can spot indigo buntings feeding on seeds and insects in low vegetation, weedy or agricultural fields, and shrubby areas close to trees.
Informational note: Indigo buntings frequently travel at night and use the stars for guidance. They are drawn to feeders that use Nyjer seeds, much as other finches.
It’s clear where the name of these stunning birds came from. The males’ brilliant crimson plumage that covers their white breasts is readily noticeable when you take a close look at them. Females, on the other hand, might be challenging to distinguish because of their similarity to many other species.
Rose-breasted Bird feeders are a favorite stop for grosbeaks, who use their enormous, triangular bill to smash open seeds. Since the perches don’t offer enough room for them, I’ve never seen one of these birds utilize a tube feeder. Sunflower seeds spread out on a platform feeder are the ideal food to use if you wish to attract them.
Rose-breasted Male grosbeaks sing to draw in females and create territories. Sometimes the male plays hard to get when the female comes up, rejecting her for a day or two before ultimately accepting her as a mate. They compensate for this by giving the female a break and sitting on the nest to maintain the warmth of the eggs.
Rose-breasted The melodious singing of grosbeaks is well recognized. Better than an American Robin, it has a comparable sound. Keep an ear out for a lengthy succession of rising and falling sounds. Be sure to seek for the male singing from a high perch if you hear one.
Painted Bunting (Passerina ciris)
The male painted bunting has earned the moniker “nonpareil,” or “without equal,” since it is frequently cited as the most exquisite bird in North America.
The male multicolored painted bunting has a red rump, a green back, and a dark blue head. Despite the hues, it could be hard to see due to the fractured pattern. Green and yellow-green are the colors of females and young. The mature female may still be identified once seen because it is a brighter, truer green than other songbirds of a similar species.
Range: Painted buntings breed in the south-central and coastal southeast regions of the United States. Particularly in Central America, they have been captured and illegally marketed as cage birds.
For further information, look for Painted Buntings at bird feeders or in weedy areas. Additionally, they favor deep thickets, which make them hard to spot.
The species breeds in scrub communities and marine hammocks in the east. Additionally, gardens with thick, shrubby vegetation contain it. Northern Florida and Georgia’s coast are included in its southern and southeastern breeding area.
Seed consumption by Painted Buntings is highest in July, following the end of the mating season. Then, they have a higher propensity to frequent a bird feeder in a yard with low, thick foliage.
Because they feel more secure, Blue Grosbeaks prefer seeds and grains at bird feeders in backyards with shrubs. Usually, you won’t see them until you hear them singing.
Blue Grosbeaks are quite reticent, especially near people, which makes it challenging to observe them. Interestingly, although the cause of this strange behavior is unknown, both males and females have a strange propensity of twitching their tails sideways.
Additionally, like parrots, blue grosbeaks have been observed to “sidle,” or stroll sideways along branches.
European Goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis)
The European goldfinch is a little finch that is indigenous to western and central Asia, North Africa, and Europe.
Red is the hue of the male’s face, while black and white is the pattern on his head. The flanks and back are a chestnut or buff color. There is a wide yellow strip on the black wings. The rump is white, while the tail is black. Both sexes are identical, however the red spot on a woman’s face is a little bit smaller.
A colorful and appealing finch, it has been captured, raised in captivity, and widely distributed around the world, especially in the United States.
There are several breeding populations in Wisconsin, and many have escaped or been dispersed across the nation. They may occasionally come into view through a bird-binoculars, watcher’s whether they are released or escapees, particularly in Florida.
The orange berries of firethorn trees, one of the colorful foods that male Cassins consume, give them the red on top of their heads.
In the winter, Cassin’s Finches frequent feeders with sunflower seeds. They also enjoy fruit-bearing plants including mulberry, firethorn, and grape bushes. It’s interesting to note that they love salt and frequently explore mineral formations on the ground.
Both males and females sing, and their melodies frequently mimic those of other birds. Below, you can hear a male Cassin’s Finch singing a happy tune with a fast succession of brief notes.
Cuba and the Cayman Islands are home to the Cuban Bullfinch. Cuba’s subtropical or tropical wet lowland and highland forests are where it may be found naturally. Recent research has revealed that it belongs to the Thraupidae family of tanagers.
According to location and sex, color ranges from black to gray. Pay attention to the thick, broad bill and the white slash running over the front of the folded wing. There are no comparable species in its area.
In its tune, buzzy trills that pitch-drop and thin “tsi” notes are played back-to-back.
The Tropical Audubon Society classifies the Cuban bullfinch as a “regular rarity” in South Florida.