House Finch Nest

House finches (Carpodacus mexicanus) were originally native to the western United States and Mexico, but a small number were released in New York in 1940. They began breeding and have since expanded their range to include all of the eastern United States as far west as Missouri and even into Canada. The western population is also expanding and, for now, the only place in the U.S. that you’re unlikely to find them is a corridor that runs south from the Dakotas through Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma and into eastern Texas. It’s only a matter of time before the two populations meet however, if indeed they haven’t already.

When I started birding in the late ’80s, there were no house finches here. But during the mid- to late-90s they began to show up at feeders during the winter. By the early 2000s, they had firmly established themselves as a year round breeding resident, at least within the small towns around the area. One morning in April three years ago, I counted 5 males singing just within 100 yards of the back door to Park headquarters. You can imagine what the population is like over a larger area.

House finches will place their nests in just about any snug location and frequently reuse them, either for subsequent broods or during a following year. The nest in the photograph is located within a wreath on my sister’s front door, a less than ideal location, though we have been trying to use the back door as much as possible. Five eggs falls squarely within the normal range of 2-6. I plan to follow up with more images until fledging time, provided the house cats and rat snakes stay away, of course.

Update 5/4/2009: I stopped a couple of days ago to see if the eggs had hatched and they had, but the nestlings are all dead. They’re still there, so it wasn’t a snake or other predator. I wonder if something happened to the female?

Leave a Reply




You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>