House Finch

Haemorhous mexicanus
Range Map

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.

Even without the artificial spread of this species by the pet trade, range expansion has occurred by these birds on their own. By 1919, they made it to Oklahoma. In 1955, they found their way to Kansas. By 1968, they showed up in Nebraska. Now they can regularly be found in most of the Lower forty-eight states of the USA.

Until recently, the genus for this bird was Carpodacus. Since 2012, the preferred genus has become Haemorhous. Studies suggest eleven subspecies of House Finch:

  • H. m. frontalis lives in the western USA from the Pacific Coast, including on the Channel Islands, east to the western Great Plains and south to northwestern Mexico, including islands Baja California (Mexico).
  • H. m. amplus lives on Isla Guadalupe (Mexico).
  • H. m. mcgregori lived formerly on Isla San Benito, Baja California Sur, is now extinct.
  • H. m. ruberrimus lives in southern Baja California (Mexico).
  • H. m. sonoriensis lives in northwestern Mexico from Sonora to Chihuahua and Sinaloa.
  • H. m. coccineus lives in western Mexico from Nayarit to Michoacán.
  • H. m. potosinus lives on the northern Mexican Plateau from Chihuahua and southwestern Texas, south to Zacatecas, Tamaulipas, and San Luis Potosí (Mexico).
  • H. m. centralis lives on the central Mexican Plateau (Mexico).
  • H. m. mexicanus lives on the southern Mexican Plateau (Mexico).
  • H. m. griscomi lives in the Sierra Madre del Sur of Guerrero (Mexico).
  • H. m. roseipectus lives in central Oaxaca Mexico).

House Finches are commonplace where I live in southern California. When I used to offer seeds to the local birds, the daily numbers approached a hundred. When my nocturnal rodent population got out of control, I stopped supplying seeds, and now I see far fewer birds, but my water feature still brings in plenty of House Finches and Lesser Goldfinches. Arizona and west Texas have also proved to be locations where these birds can be easy to find.

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