12 Types of Finch Birds with Pictures

Male Purple Finch perched on a feeder with a green background
Steve Byland/Shutterstock.com

Written by Niccoy Walker

Updated: October 17, 2023

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Finches are a familiar sight in gardens all over the country.

Finches are small to medium-sized birds with conical bills and colorful plumage. They inhabit a wide range of habitats and have distinctive flight calls. There are several North American finch species, which include redpolls, grosbeaks, crossbills, and siskins. Discover 12 types of finch birds and learn about their habitats, appearance, diets, and nests.

Cassin’s Finch

Cassin’s Finch (Haemorhous cassinii)

The Cassin’s finch has a chunky body with a notched tails and rosy pink plumage. They live in mature forests and sagebrush shrublands.

Habitat and Range: The Cassin’s finch is a permanent resident in the Northwestern United States. Populations that breed further north over the Canadian border migrate to the Southwest and Mexico for winter. These birds live in mature forests and sagebrush shrubland.

Features and Coloring: These chunky finches have notched tails and feature rosy pink plumage with heavy brown streaking.

Diet: Seeds, buds, and berries

Vocalization: Flutey warbles

Nests: An open twig and weed cup in large conifers

House Finch

House Finch Profile

The House finch is a permanent resident throughout most of the United States. They often live near human habitations, like urban centers.

Habitat and Range: House finches live year-round throughout most of the United States, except for some parts of the Midwest. They have wide-ranging habitats, but you can often find them near human habitations, like urban centers and suburban lawns.

Features and Coloring: The house finch is a small bird with a large beak and a long, flat head. They also have rosey red plumage with streaky brown backs.

Diet: Seeds, buds, and berries

Vocalization: Chirp calls and extensive warble

Nests: An open grass and weed cup placed on a variety of sites

Purple Finch

A Purple Finch Male at a Feeder

The purple finch is more reddish-pink than purple. They also have brown backs, whitish bellies, and silver conical bills.

Habitat and Range: The purple finch breeds in Canada and winters in the Eastern United States. Populations in the Northeast and Northwest live there year-round. They live in cool, moist evergreen forests during summer and a variety of habitats during winter.

Features and Coloring: Another small finch with a conical bill. Their bodies are chunky and feature reddish-pink heads, brown backs, and whitish bellies.

Diet: Seeds, berries, buds, and insects

Vocalization: Rich, musical warble

Nests: Compact twig cup placed on horizontal branches

Black Rosy-Finch

black rosy-finch

The black rosy-finch lives in the mountains of the Western United States. They breed in cliffs and rock slides and winter in parks and valleys.

Habitat and Range: The black rosy-finch has a relatively small range in the mountains of the Western United States. They are altitudinal migrants, meaning they move to lower altitudes during winter. They breed above the treeline in cliffs and rock slides and winter in open parks and valleys.

Features and Coloring: They are medium-sized finches with black plumage and pink highlights with gray crowns.

Diet: Seeds and insects

Vocalization: Low “cheep” notes

Nests: A bulky open grass cup in a cliff crevice

Brown-Capped Rosy-finch

brown-capped rosy-finch

Brown-capped rosy finches live in Wyoming, Colorado, and New Mexico. They inhabit snowy meadows in high alpine areas.

Habitat and Range: Brown-capped rosy finches have a small range in Wyoming, Colorado, and New Mexico. They breed in high alpine areas in snowy meadows and move to lower elevations during winter, where they inhabit Rocky Mountain communities. 

Features and Coloring: This stocky, medium-sized bird has a short tail and long wings. Male breeding plumage is rich brown above and rosy below with gray caps.

Diet: Insects, spiders, and seeds

Vocalization: Low “cheep” calls

Nests: A bulky moss cup in a cliff crevice

Gray-Crowned Rosy-Finch

gray-crowned rosy-finch

The gray-crowned rosy finch winters in the Northwestern United States in meadows and rocky hillsides.

Habitat and Range: The cray-crowned rosy-finch breeds in Alaska and Western Canada and winters in the Northwestern United States. They inhabit alpine areas above the treeline, nesting near cliffs and glaciers. You can find them in meadows and rocky hillsides during winter.

Features and Coloring: Medium-sized and chunky, this rosy-finch has a short tail and short bill. They have gray heads, Brown bodies with dark streaking, and pink accents.

Diet: Seeds and insects

Vocalization: Harsh “cheep” notes

Nests: A bulky grass cup amongst boulders

American Goldfinch

a goldfinches lower frame right, looking left, perched on a small branch. The bird is yellow, with black andd gray wings. The top of the bird's head is black and its beak is orange, Indistinct light green background. T

Male goldfinches are pleasing to look at with their yellow and black plumage. They have an extensive range across North America.

Habitat and Range: American goldfinches have an extensive range across North America. They breed in Southern Canada and winter in the Southern United States and Mexico. There are also permanent populations in the Northern to Central US. They live in weedy fields and open floodplains.

Features and Coloring: The breeding male has bright yellow plumage with black wings and foreheads. Nonbreeding males are drab brown with black and white wings with yellow heads.

Diet: Seeds and insects

Vocalization: Bright “potato-chips”

Nests: A compact plant fiber cup in deciduous shrubs and trees

Lawrence’s Goldfinch

Lawrence's goldfinch

Lawrence’s goldfinch is nomadic, moving when they need to find seeding plants and water. Look for them in open woodlands and coastal scrub.

Habitat and Range: The Lawrence’s goldfinch breeds sporadically throughout California and winters in Arizona, New Mexico, and Mexico. They are nomadic and move around throughout the year in search of seeding plants and water. They live in dry, open woodlands, coastal scrub, suburbs, and weedy fields.

Features and Coloring: These birds are gray overall with yellow breasts and wing patches. They also have black faces and streaky wings.

Diet: Seeds and insects

Vocalization: Melodious, scratchy notes

Nests: Small grass cups in trees

Lesser Goldfinch

lesser goldfinch chirping in tree

The lesser goldfinch averages around four inches in length. Males are bright yellow and glossy black with white wing patches.

Habitat and Range: The lesser goldfinch has a breeding population in the Southwest, but most live year-round along the west coast and Mexico. Some also live permanently in Central and South America. They live in patchy open habitats, like thickets, woodlands, clearings, and farmland.

Features and Coloring: Males are bright yellow below and glossy black above with white wing patches.

Diet: Seeds and insects

Vocalization: Rapid twittering

Nests: A compact woven grass cup placed in vertical twig forks in bushes

Pine Siskin

Pine siskin perched at the end of a pine branch against a blurred background

Pine siskins weigh 0.4 to 0.6 ounces and measure 4.3 to 5.5 inches long. They have sharp, pointed bills and streaky brown plumage.

Habitat and Range: Pine siskins breed in Canada and winter across the United States and Mexico. And some populations are permanent residents in Southern Canada and the Western US. They breed in open coniferous and mixed forests. You can also find them in parks, cemeteries, suburbs, and many other areas.

Features and Coloring: They are very small songbirds with sharp, pointed bills. These birds are streaky brown with light yellow edgings.

Diet: Seeds, vegetable matter, and insects

Vocalization: Husky, whispering trills

Nests: a Large, shallow twig cup hidden in trees

Evening Grosbeak

Male and Female Evening Grosbeak

Researchers are unsure what’s causing a significant decline in the evening grosbeak population. They winter across most of the United States.

Habitat and Range: Evening grosbeaks live year-round in Canada and the Northwestern United States and winters across most of the US, except for the far southern regions. You can find them in mature coniferous and deciduous forests.

Features and Coloring: They are large, heavyset finches with thick bills and short tails. They have varying shades of yellow and black plumage with white wing patches.

Diet: Seeds, berries, and insects

Vocalization: Short, musical whistles

Nests: A loose twig cup placed on a horizontal branch

Red Crossbill

red crossbill perched, looking backwards

The red crossbill has a very unique beak, which allows it to open sources of food easily. They are permanent residents in the Pacific Northwest.

Habitat and Range: The red crossbill is a permanent resident in Canada, the Pacific Northwest, and parts of the Southwest and Mexico. They winter across the rest of the United States, except in the Southeast. They inhabit mature coniferous forests.

Features and Coloring: They are medium-sized finches with crisscrossed bills, featuring brick red plumage and dark wings and tails.

Diet: Conifer seeds

Vocalization: Sweet, loose trills

Nests: A bulky, loose twig cup placed on a horizontal conifer branch

Bonus: How to Attract Finches to Your Home

Purple finch (Haemorhous purpureus) perched on a feeder eating sun flower seeds during late autumn. Selective focus, background blur and foreground blur.

Finches are delightful songbirds that are fun to watch.


Image: Aaron J Hill, Shutterstock

Finches of all types are a delight to see and hear whenever they visit your yard or garden. While bird experts don’t always recommend feeding wild birds – there’s no question that it provides pleasure for both the human and the birds! Here are some ways that you can attract these lively little birds to your home:

  • Place your feeders where finches feel safe. The best spot is near a tree or shrub during the introduction period – but you can move it far enough away that squirrels can’t jump to it after the finches have claimed it.
  • Fill the new feeder halfway. It may seem odd, but for some reason, a new half-full feeder seems to be more attractive to birds.
  • Provide fresh black seed. Finches won’t feed on old-looking brown seed. Press on the seed with your fingernail – if oil comes out – your finches are sure to love it! Thistle seed can be stored in the freezer until you use it to preserve freshness.
  • Add brightly colored ribbons or plants. Birds are attracted to bright colors and ribbons blowing in the wind make them believe that another bird has already tested and approved the feeder.
  • Keep your finch feeder clean. Finches don’t like dirty feeders – especially clumped food that has gotten wet after it rains.
  • Plant seed-bearing plants. Flowers in bloom and seed-bearing plants like sunflowers and pinecones attract birds.
  • Provide black oil sunflower seed. Finches love the high-fat content! While it won’t fit into a thistle feeder – another feeder with this offering will attract all types of birds along with the finches.

Summary of 12 Types of Finch

FinchLocation
1Cassin’s FinchNorthwestern and Southern US and Mexico
2House FinchMost parts of the US
3Purple FinchCanada and Eastern US
4Black Rosy-FinchWestern US
5Brown-Capped Rosy-finchWyoming, Colorado, and New Mexico
6Gray-Crowned Rosy-FinchAlaska, Western Canada, and Northwestern United States
7American GoldfinchThroughout the US and Mexico
8Lawrence’s GoldfinchCalifornia, Arizona, New Mexico, and Mexico
9Lesser Goldfinch The west coast of the US, Mexico, Central, and South America
10Pine Siskin Southern Canada, Mexico, and the Western US
11Evening GrosbeakCanada and the Northwestern United States
12Red CrossbillCanada, the Pacific Northwest, and parts of the Southwest and Mexico


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About the Author

Niccoy is a professional writer for A-Z Animals, and her primary focus is on birds, travel, and interesting facts of all kinds. Niccoy has been writing and researching about travel, nature, wildlife, and business for several years and holds a business degree from Metropolitan State University in Denver. A resident of Florida, Niccoy enjoys hiking, cooking, reading, and spending time at the beach.

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