Finches are typically inhabitants of wooded areas, but some can be found on mountains or even in deserts. They are primarily seed eaters, but some species include considerable amounts of bugs and berries in their diet. Species on display in this set include American, Lawrence’s and Lesser Goldfinches, Cassin’s, Gray-crowned Rosy, House, and Purple Finches, Common and Hoary Redpolls, and White-winged Crossbill.
The Cassin's Finch's breeding habitat is coniferous forest in mountains of western North America as far south as northern New Mexico and Arizona; also Southern California near Baja California. They nest in large conifers, and move to lower elevations in winter.
Rosy-Finches are remarkably handsome birds. All rosy finches live in an alpine or tundra environment. The Gray-crowned Rosy Finch has a wide range and large numbers throughout Alaska, and western Canada and the United States.
The Hoary Redpoll, also known as the Arctic Redpoll, breeds in the tundra of northern North America. Many birds remain in the far north; some birds migrate short distances south in winter, sometimes travelling with Common Redpolls.
The House Finch is a common feeder bird in Southern California. Originally only a resident of Mexico and the southwestern United States, they were introduced to eastern North America in the 1940s. The birds were sold illegally in New York City as "Hollywood Finches". Originally only a resident of Mexico and the southwestern United States, they now range over most of the USA.
The Lawrence's Goldfinch breeds from about Shasta County, California to northern Baja California, largely in the Coast Ranges and the foothills of the Sierra Nevada and in the Baja highlands, but also sometimes as far down as the coast.
The Lesser Goldfinch ranges from the southwestern United States (near the coast, as far north as extreme southwestern Washington) to Venezuela and Peru. It migrates from the colder parts of its U.S. range.
This bird's breeding range spreads across almost the entirety of Canada, Alaska and, to a more variable degree, across the western mountains and northern parts of the United States. Normally a bird that lives at elevation, some of these birds were found in Poway (elevation 512 feet).
White-winged Crossbills are specialist feeders on conifer cones, and the unusual bill shape is an adaptation to assist the extraction of the seeds from the cone. These birds are typically found in Canada and Alaska, where their food sources grows, but may winter in the northern USA.