The House Finch song is a series of jumbled chirps, warbles, and cheeps that turn into 3-second songs. Male House Finches often sing yearly, while female House Finches are only heard during mating season. The high-pitched song of the House Finch is light, cheery, and will melt even the coldest of hearts.
Ever wonder what a singing House Finch is saying? Unlike other songbirds, the warbling notes of the House Finch are loud enough to puncture through the noise of a bustling city and include something called a butterfly flight in its mating rituals. They string together songs as a way of courting, but contact calls and chirps are also a clever way that House Finches (aka Haemorhous mexicanus) communicate with each other.
High-pitches cheeps can indicate anything from the discovery of a food source or backyard bird feeder to the threatening presence of a predator (such as the cowbird that likes to lay eggs in their nests). If you hear a House Finch furiously singing outside your window, keep reading to determine what they’re saying!
Why Do House Finches Sing?
House Finches (as well as other similar bird species) sing to attract a mate, defend their territory, or communicate with other birds. The House Finch mating call is often heard during the breeding season between March and August. They aren’t migratory birds, meaning their bird calls are heard well into the winter.
Another reason House Finches sing is to locate other birds in their flock or to alert nearby birds of a food source or predator. House Finches aren’t the only Finches with similar alarm calls. The Goldfinch and Purple Finch all have similar ways of communication.
House Finch Mating Songs
During the breeding season, Finches become quite the little singers. House Finches, for instance, have a warbling song that composes a series of jumbled warbles split into 3-second syllable repertoires. They perch atop a high branch and swoop down enthusiastically as they perform their courtship dance. Unlike other songbirds, House Finches display much more than courtship songs to attract a mate.
Female House Finches select a mate based on his song, bright red feathers, ability to forage for food, and courtship display (aka the butterfly flight). If you hear a House Finch mating call, keep an eye out for their butterfly flight! They fly up to 30 meters in the air as they furiously sing their warbling mating call.
House Finches have a few hundred syllable types that they string together to form their unique mating call. When bird watching, these sounds may sound a bit cluttered. However, there is a reason for their special mating calls. The House Finch mating call is unique because it strings various syllable types together based on their location. If they live in a noisy urban area, they sing louder and with longer syllables compared to quiet wooded areas. This elasticity in their vocalizations has been admired as a way that Finches have grown to adapt to the environment around them.
Contact calls are a way for finches to communicate with each other. They offer very quiet chirps that indicate several things. If a Purple Finch or a House Finch finds an excellent feeding source, they emit a soft chirp or cheep noise to contact nearby finches.
Additionally, their contact calls are very similar to their flight calls. They offer a series of chirps while in flight to indicate their whereabouts to their small flocks. While Finches don’t often travel in large groups, they are seen traveling in pairs or family units.
The Purple Finch and the House Finch make very similar bay-bee calls when alerted of a predator. When a predator lurks nearby, Finches make a high-pitch call that sounds like they are saying ‘bay-bee.’ These unique calls are heard during breeding season as well in the wintertime. Alarm calls are designed to alert any nearby bird of danger, not just Finches. Birds such as Warblers, Hummingbirds, Cassin’s, and Buntings can identify a Finches alarm call and take cover.
Do Female House Finches Sing?
Yes, females sing but aren’t as vocal as Male House Finches. Female House Finches only sing during the breeding season, and their songs are somewhat abbreviated versions of the male song. During courtship, the female sings to attract a male to offer feedings. The female House Finch sings for her food!
Outside of the breeding season, female House Finches don’t make that much noise. They will make the occasional chirp to tweet to communicate with fellow Finches, but vocalizations are rare outside of breed season.
Where Do Finches Live?
If you think a Finch is singing in your backyard, odds are you’re right. The habitat range of the House Finch spans the entirety of the United States. Whether you live in New York or California, Finches have made their homes in North America. Their birdsongs can be heard throughout the United States, and they even sing in the winter months collected around backyard bird feeders.
While the House Finch is most common, other variants of the Finch are peppered throughout North America. Geographic variation alters not only the appearance of Finches but also their birds sounds. The American Goldfinch and the Purple Finch have slightly different bird songs than the House Finch. American people that live in other parts of the country often have unique dialects, and the same can be said for various species of Finches.
How To Attract Finches to Your Birdfeeders
Finches are vegetarians, meaning their diet consists primarily of seeds and nuts. They sometimes feed bugs to their young for an extra nutrition boost, but they love backyard bird feeders.
If you want to attract these lovely songbirds to your backyard space, selecting the right seed is key. Finches love anything from thistle, sunflower seeds, cracked corn, and even suet. Since Finches aren’t migratory birds, you can help sustain Finch populations in your area by ensuring that your feeders are stocked when the temperatures plummet! The best part about attracting Finches to your backyard this winter is that they also chirp and occasionally sing in the wintertime!