Meet the 9 Finches That Call Florida Home (and Learn How to Properly ID Each!)

American Goldfinch Photo and Image. Close-up side view couple perched on a branch with forest background in their environment and habitat
© Rejean Bedard/iStock via Getty Images

Written by Kellianne Matthews

Published: January 18, 2024

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Members of the Fringillidae family, finches are nimble songbirds that come in a kaleidoscope of beautiful colors. Despite their small, compact size, these little birds are feathery powerhouses, with tough beaks for cracking open nuts and seeds. Let’s take a look at the finches that call Florida home and learn how to properly ID each bird! 

1. American Goldfinch (Spinus tristis)

An adult male American Goldfinch (Spinus tristis) perched in a Maple Tree

American goldfinches spend time in areas with abundant plants like sunflowers, dandelions, and thistles.

©Alan B. Schroeder/Shutterstock.com

Found throughout North America, the American goldfinch is easy to spot due to its vibrant yellow feathers. In Florida, these cheerful birds prefer partially open areas, with a nice mixture of scattered trees, shrubs, and low vegetation. American goldfinches in Florida are often spotted along the edges of woodlands and forests, in weedy meadows and fields, in fields and orchards, and even in suburban backyards. 

How to Identify American Goldfinches

CategoryAnswer
SizeAbout 4.3 to 5.1 inches long.
MalesDuring the breeding season, male birds sport vibrant yellow feathers, accented by black wing bars with white patches and black foreheads. Outside of the breeding season, they have drab brown feathers, sometimes with a yellowish head.
FemalesFemale birds have pale yellow or brownish/olive-brown feathers and bold black and white bars on their wings. During the breeding season, they have yellow feathers below. They look similar to the males, but are paler or duller yellow and lack the bold black feathers on the head. 

2. Lesser Goldfinch (Spinus psaltria)

lesser goldfinch chirping in tree

The lesser goldfinch is slightly smaller than the American goldfinch.

©iStock.com/Sunil Singh

Although smaller than the American goldfinch, the lesser goldfinch is just as bright and beautiful. These acrobatic birds have dazzling bright yellow feathers that make them easy to spot as they flit about. They prefer partially open habitats, with a nice mixture of weedy fields, trees, and shrubs. In Florida, they often frequent open fields, the edges of woodlands, and coastal scrublands, especially during the spring and summer months. They particularly like sunflower, daisy, and thistle seeds.

How to Identify Lesser Goldfinches

CategoryAnswer
SizeAbout 4 to 5 inches long. 
MalesAdult males have bright yellow feathers with glossy black caps. Their backs are dark, either black or dull green. Their wings are also dark and have white patches.
Females and immature malesFemale and young male birds have olive feathers with dull yellow underneath. Their black wings have white bars. 

3. House Finch (Haemorhous mexicanus

A Male House Finch tries to snatch food from the mouth of a female, two birds in the feeder

Finches are very vocal and musical.

©Real Window Creative/Shutterstock.com

If you live in Florida, you’ve likely come across a house finch at some point. These sweet little birds often live in urban areas like parks and residential neighborhoods, favoring human-modified habitats that provide plenty of shelter and food to eat. They are very social birds, flocking together in musical groups as they munch on fruits, seeds, and insects. 

How to Identify House Finches

CategoryAnswer
Size5.1 to 5.5 inches long.
MalesMale house finches are easy to spot, with vibrant, rose-colored feathers on their heads and breasts. However, depending on their diet, some birds have more yellow or orange coloring in place of these rose-red feathers. Their bodies and wings sport streaks of brown. 
Females and immature malesFemale birds and young males have brown or grayish-tan bodies with blurry streaks of various brown hues

4. Purple Finch (Haemorhous purpureus

A Purple Finch Male at a Feeder

Purple finches have unique warbling songs.

©Fiona M. Donnelly/Shutterstock.com

In Florida, purple finches are not quite as common as some of their other cousins. They primarily visit the state during the winter months, from October through April. Purple finches typically prefer forest habitats with coniferous trees, mixed woodlands, and occasionally suitable backyards (often ones with lots of sunflower seeds!). They spend much of their time in the highest part of the trees. 

How to Identify Purple Finches

CategoryAnswer
SizeAround 4.7 to 6.3 inches long.
MalesPurple finches get their name from the beautiful purplish-red colors of male birds — they look as if they have eaten one too many raspberries! This stunning raspberry-red coloring is seen on their heads, breasts, backs, and rumps, while there are streaks of brown on their backs and wings. 
Females and immature malesFemales and young male birds are much more subdued than male birds and lack the raspberry red coloring. Instead, their bodies are boldly streaked with brown and white. 

5. Pine Siskin (Spinus pinus)

Male and female pine siskins at a bird feeder

Pine siskins particularly like sunflower, nyjer, and thistle seeds.

©Klimek Pavol/Shutterstock.com

Sometimes spotted in Florida during the winter months, the pine siskin is an energetic finch that often visits the northern and central regions of the state. These charming little birds prefer forested areas and mixed woodlands with plenty of seeds to eat. You can often hear their high-pitched, twittering calls even when you can’t see them. However, if you are lucky enough to see them, they are a lot of fun to watch. Pine siskins are acrobatic feeders, which means that they often hang upside down to get seeds. 

How to Identify Pine Siskins

CateforyAnswer
SizeAround 4.3 to 5.5 inches long.
MalesMale birds have brownish feathers on top with heavy dark brown streaks. Underneath their feathers are paler and have lighter-colored streaks. During the breeding season, however, males have a yellow breast and yellow bars on their wings. 
FemalesFemale birds also have brownish feathers with very bold streaks.

6. Evening Grosbeak (Hesperiphona vespertina

Male and Female Evening Grosbeak in Winter

Evening grosbeaks sometimes visit backyards stocked with delicious sunflower seeds.

©FotoRequest/Shutterstock.com

A rather chunky-looking finch, the evening grosbeak is another winter visitor in Florida. These birds are pretty unpredictable, and their migratory patterns are based heavily on the availability of food. Evening grosbeaks prefer mixed woodlands and coniferous forests but can also be seen along the edges of woodlands and clearings.

How to Identify Evening Grosbeaks

CategoryAnswer
SizeAround 7.9 to 9.1 inches long with stocky bodies.
MalesMale birds have beautiful yellow feathers, with dark gray or black heads. They have a bright yellow stripe over each eye and prominent white patches on their wings. 
Females and Immature MalesFemale and young male birds have mostly gray feathers, with bold black and white patterns on their wings. There is also a tinge of yellow or greenish yellow around their necks.

7. Red Crossbill (Loxia curvirostra)

Red crossbill or common crossbill (Loxia curvirostra), a small passerine bird in the finch family

Red crossbills have unique mandibles that cross over one another.

©Henk Bogaard/Shutterstock.com

These medium-sized finches favor areas with lots of cone-bearing coniferous trees like spruce and pine. The upper and lower portions of their unique bills cross over one another, a special design that allows them to access the seeds in pinecones. 

How to Identify Red Crossbills

CategoryAnswer
SizeTypically 5.9 to 7.5 inches long, with stocky bodies. 
MalesMales have red or reddish-orange bodies with darker brownish-red wings. 
FemalesFemale birds have yellowish-colored feathers with darker wings. 
JuvenilesYoung red crossbills are brownish-gray with heavy streaking.

8. Common Redpoll (Acanthis flammea)

Common Redpoll

Common redpolls are very social, communicating with high-pitched songs in large flocks. 

©FotoRequest/Shutterstock.com

Hailing from the boreal forests of the arctic tundra, the common redpoll is not a typical visitor to Florida. However, there have been occasional rare sightings of these beautiful birds in the state during the winter months. Common redpolls are very active, energetic birds that can be seen and heard in open landscapes like meadows and fields. They may also be spotted on occasion in marshes, wetlands, and backyards with feeders (they especially love thistle and nyjer seeds).

How to Identify Common Redpolls

CategoryAnswer
SizeAround 4.3 to 5.1 inches long. 
MalesMale birds have brown-streaked bodies with light-colored undersides. Their most distinguishing feature is the vibrant red feathers on the crown of the head and the pinkish-red feathers on their chest. 
Females and immature males Female and young male birds have brown bodies with lots of streaks. Their undersides are lighter, and they have a tiny little red patch of feathers on the crown of the head. 

9. Yellow-Fronted Canary (Crithagra mozambica)

Yellow-fronted Canary in Kruger National park, South Africa

The yellow-fronted canary is also called the green-singing finch.

©Utopia_88/iStock via Getty Images

Although the yellow-fronted canary hails from sub-Saharan Africa, a few of these unique birds have been spotted in Florida. These beautiful yellow birds have high-pitched songs with sweet melodies. Yellow-fronted canaries typically prefer grasslands and open woodlands, but may also be seen in sand dunes, coastal scrub, and mangroves. 

How to Identify Yellow-Fronted Canaries

CategoryAnswer
SizeAround 4 to 5 inches long.
MalesAdult male birds have bright yellow feathers, with dark stripes through the eyes and below the beak. Their backs and wings are darker with faint outlines of yellow. 
FemalesAlthough similar to males in appearance, female yellow-fronted canaries are much less brightly colored. 

Uncommon Visiting Finches in Florida

Extremely Rare Finches Spotted in Florida

In addition to the many finches that call Florida home, a few unexpected species have been spotted around the state. However, these are extremely rare, and some have only been observed once in Florida:

“False” Finches in Florida

“True” finches belong to the scientific family Fringillidae, including birds like redpolls, siskins, canaries, grosbeaks, serins, and euphonias. These birds are typically small, colorful, and have tiny conical beaks. However, many other birds are also referred to as finches, even though they are not truly part of the finch family at all. These are the “false” finches you may come across in Florida:

  • Scaly-breasted munia (Lonchura punctulata)
  • Tricolored munia (Lonchura malacca
  • Rose-breasted grosbeak (Pheucticus ludovicianus)
  • Black-headed grosbeak (Pheucticus melanocephalus)
  • Blue grosbeak (Passerina caerulea)
  • Lazuli bunting (Passerina amoena)
  • Indigo bunting (Passerina cyanea)
  • Varied bunting (Passerina versicolor
  • Painted bunting (Passerina ciris)
  • Cuban bullfinch (Melopyrrha nigra)
  • Greater Antillean bullfinch (Melopyrrha violacea)


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About the Author

Kellianne Matthews is a writer at A-Z Animals where her primary focus is on anthrozoology, conservation, human-animal relationships, and animal behavior. Kellianne has been writing and researching animals for over ten years and has decades of hands-on experience working with a variety of different animals. She holds a Master’s Degree from Brigham Young University, which she earned in 2017. A resident of Utah, Kellianne enjoys creating, exploring and learning new things, analyzing movies, caring for animals, and playing with her cats.

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