House Sparrow VS House Finch: 6 Key Differences

house sparrow
You can tell the difference between a house sparrow vs house finch by looking at the color of their plumage. House sparrows have a dusty grayish underbelly, while the House finches tend to have a pattern of speckles, and in males a very pronounced red color. 

How to Identify House Sparrow and House Finch

Female House Finch

Female House Sparrows

House Sparrow VS House Finch: 6 Key Differences Female house sparrows are fluffy, delicate, and petite. They are accented with shades of brown and gray and look very plain in contrast to the male House Sparrow. 

Their coloring is very pale to the brink of looking dingy, and their underparts are a dirty shade of gray. 

Male House Finch
Male House Finch

Male House Sparrows

Male House Sparrows have more detail and accents in their feathers, making them easier to distinguish from other bird species. 

They have much darker brown feathers than females, with black accents on their breasts and rust-colored hues around their necks. 

Female House Finch
Female House Finch

Female House Finch

Even the most skilled birdwatcher has confused a female House Finch and House Sparrow. At a glance, these two bird species almost look identical. The female House Finch has a similar brown and almost dingy coloring and is of similar shape and stature. 

Upon closer examination, the female House Finch has a unique pattern on its breast. The pattern on the breast is speckled and looks a little blurry, which makes it easier to determine from female House Sparrows. 

Male House Finch
Male House Finch

Male House Finch

There’s no mistaking the male House Finch for anyone in the Sparrow family!

Male House Finches stand out in the crowd thanks to their red raspberry coloring around their head and breast. 

They have a small stature similar to other finches (such as the Purple Finch), but their bright red feathers are a clear giveaway. 

Size of the House Sparrow and House Finch

Overall, the size of these two birds is very similar. 

While the House Finch has a slightly larger wingspan than the House Sparrow, it’s almost impossible to make the distinction between these two bird species by size alone. 

House Sparrow, adult5.5 to 7.1 Inches19-21 centimeters
House Finch, adult5.5 inches20-25 centimeters

In the video below, we rounded up 10 little known facts about House Finches!

Habitat of the House Sparrow and House Finch

To make things even more complicated, the habitat of these two songbirds often overlaps. 

Both birds make their homes in deciduous and coniferous forests and are often found in residential neighborhoods hanging around backyard feeders. 

The House Sparrow and The House Finch reside on both coasts of North America, from Canada as far down as Mexico. 

Since both birds have made their homes in residential neighborhoods, it isn’t considered rare to see both bird species hanging around the same bird feeder. 

deciduous and coniferous forests

Bill on the House Sparrow and House Finch

If you can get close enough, the bills on both songbirds are slightly different. 

The House Sparrow’s bill is very small and more conical than a House Finch. Additionally, the bill of the House Sparrow is often black or yellow. The color of the House Sparrows bill often changes depending upon age and gender. 

On the other hand, House Finches have a slightly larger bill that is gray. 

If you have trouble telling the difference between the pattern of feathers, the bill is a great way to easily spot the difference between these two songbirds. 

Patterns and Colors of the House Sparrow and House Finch

While the differences in coloring are slight, there are subtle differences in the coloring of these birds. Male House Finches and male House Sparrows are easiest enough to tell apart.

The male House Finch has a rosy red coloring around the head and breast, while the male House Sparrow is brown and gray. Females are a little trickier to differentiate. The easiest way to tell the difference between these two songbirds is by looking at the pattern of their brown feathers.

The female House Finches have brown feathers with different patterns. The easiest way to spot a female House Finch is to look for a blurry pattern of white and brown feathers on its breast.

House sparrow flying displaying wing span
House sparrow flying displaying wing span

Wingspan of the House Sparrow and House Finch

The size of these two songbirds varies depending upon a few factors, such as sex and age. Overall, the House Sparrow has a slightly larger wingspan when compared to House Finch. 

The wingspan of a House Sparrow measures 19-25 centimeters, with females being slightly smaller. The House Finch has a wingspan of 20-25 centimeters. 

They’re very similar in size, but the House Sparrow is a little bulkier and often looks bigger than the more delicate House Finch. 

House Sparrow vs House Finch. House Finch displaying wingspan
House Finch displaying wingspan

Tail Feathers on the House Sparrow and House Finch

The House Sparrows’ tail feathers are slightly longer when compared to the House Finch. House Sparrows have tail feathers that are long and slightly rounded.

In comparison, the House Finch’s tail feathers are notched and more shallow than the House Finch. They are very similar, but if your backyard bird has longer tail feathers, it’s likely a House Sparrow.

Is it a House Sparrow, or is it a House Finch?

It can be hard to note the difference between these birds at a glance. House Sparrows often travel in flocks and sometimes, Sparrows like to intermingle with House Finches, making it even more difficult to tell the difference between the two.

If you can tell the difference between the two at a glance, take notice of the birdseed they eat at your feeders. House Sparrows are drawn to songbird food that includes sunflower seeds, and cracked corn. House Finches will eat songbird mix, but they often prefer thistle and milkweed.

If you hang a songbird and a finch feeder, it will make your job of identifying them a little easier!

Tara Summerville

Tara Summerville is a freelance writer that loves her backyard birdfeeders. She enjoys sitting on her deck with a cup of coffee, watching cardinals, blue jays, finches, and chickadees munch away at her backyard offerings. Her fascination with birds began as a child; spending afternoons at her grandma's house watching and identifying birds. She has since carried her love of songbirds into adulthood and ensures no bird in her yard goes hungry!

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