Of the 145 types of finches that exist worldwide, 16 occur in North America, reports the "National Audubon Society Field Guide to Birds." The finches often have brightly colored feathers, especially the males of the species, and their bills are conical, a feature that helps them to pick up seeds. The different types of finches are frequent guest at bird feeders across their ranges.
The lesser goldfinch is a finch of the American Southwest, spending summers in states such as Colorado, Utah and Nevada, and wintering in Mexico. The lesser goldfinch is not as bright in coloration the American goldfinch, with the males having greenish backs in parts of their range and all-black feathers on the back in others. The males do have the trademark brilliant yellow of their cousins, but only on their bellies. The lesser goldfinch craves the seeds of dandelions, feeding the unripe ones to its chicks.
Gray-Crowned Rosy Finch
The gray-crowned rosy finch is a bird of "extreme habitats," according to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology site. This finch lives throughout Alaska and much of northwest Canada, residing in alpine regions with access to glaciers and snowfields. The gray-crowned rosy finch will eat the seeds it finds on the ground in warm weather and then comb the snowfields where they live for bugs blown there by the wind. The birds migrate south to states like Idaho and Wyoming for the winter, where they feed on seeds and gladly access bird feeders.
The Cassin's finch is a species of the West, with the bird a common sight through the Rockies and into the Pacific Northwest. The Cassin's finch is medium sized and the males have a pinkish head and chest, while the females are brownish with stripes. The Cassin's finch likes to live in fir and spruce trees. The bird survives on bugs, fruits, berries and seeds. The Cassin's finch can imitate the songs of other birds.
One of the northernmost finches is the common redpoll, a bird that lives on the tundra and in the boreal forests of northern Canada in spring and summer. The redpoll comes southward in fall to spend the winter, but not as far south as states such as North Carolina and Oklahoma. The redpoll will tear into the dried stalks of flowers and then fly to the ground to eat the seeds. The redpoll is an easy bird to approach as it forages on the ground for food, which unfortunately sometimes allows predators to close in and grab it before it can fly away.
- Cornell Lab of Ornithology All About Birds: Finches and Allies
- Shaw Creek Bird Supply: Lesser Goldfinch
- Montana Field Guide: Gray-Crowned Rosy Finch
- Shaw Creek Bird Supply: Cassin's Finch
- "National Audubon Society Field Guide to Birds"; John Bull and John Farrand Jr.; 2008
- male house finch image by Al Mueller from Fotolia.com