Finch Bird Information And Facts For Kids
Finch bird information and facts for kids tells all that your child needs to know about these cute birds such as physical features of finches, their behaviour and nesting habits, and baby finches.
By Arun Sharma
Many of us adopt birds as pets. While pigeons and parrots are the commonly seen pet birds, the finch is also a popular choice. Some of the finch species commonly kept as pets are the European goldfinch, zebra finch, owl finch and Gouldian finch.
Although the finch is becoming popular as a pet bird, not many of us know much about the different types of finches.
This article on finch bird information and facts for kids tells all about the various types of pet finches, nesting habits of finches, baby finches and more.
Finch genus and species
Finches are perching birds (passerine) that live on trees (arboreal). They belong to the family Fringillidae.
This is a large family. So, it is further divided into 3 subfamilies. These are:
- Carduelinae or cardueline finches
- Fringillinae or fringillid finches
- Drepanidinae or Hawaiian honeycreepers
Within the 3 subfamilies, it was previously thought that there were approximately 50 genus and more than 200 species of finches.
However, based on DNA–DNA hybridization studies by Sibley and Ahlquist in 1990, the finch family is now divided into the following sub-families:
Within the Peucedraminae sub-family, there is only 1 genus and 1 species. However, in the Fringillinae (old world finches) sub-family, there are 39 genera and 169 species, and in the Emberizinae subfamily, there are 200 genera and 823 species.
Facts About Finches
Physical features of finches
- Finches of all species are small to medium-sized birds. They have a compact body, measuring approximately 3 to 10 inches (7.5 to 25cm).
- Their body weight varies between 8 and 60g.
- In physical appearance, female finches are generally smaller in size than male finches.
- The bill or beak of finch birds have a conical appearance, resembling the letter ‘V’. This shape is useful in cracking seeds. However, while the shape of the bill is similar among all finch species, the size of the beak varies according to the size of the bird.
- The colour of the feathers of these birds can be red, orange, yellow, brown and grey. Compared with females, male finches have brighter-coloured feathers.
- The ears of these birds are placed slightly below and behind the eyes. They are covered by feathers, and so aren’t visible.
- The nostrils of finches are located on the sides of the upper bill. However, like most birds, finches have a very poor sense of smell and rely on their eyesight to forage for food or sense danger.
- Keeping finches as pets can liven up your day. Although they chirp often, their sound is soothing and low in volume.
- While they may sit on your finger, they do not like being touched.
- Being highly sociable, finches do not like to live alone. They prefer the company of their own kind and like to live in pairs. So, while having finches as pets, do ensure that you have a pair instead of a lone finch.
- The finch birds like to keep themselves clean. So, if you keep them as pets, provide them with enough water in a large, shallow basin for bathing and cooling themselves.
- Finches are territorial and very protective of their mate. The male finch will sing or make calls in his area to reinforce his claim on his area. While the female finch is not territorial, she may fight with other females for a male.
- In a group of finches, there is always a hierarchy. The alpha finch calls all the shots. It is this finch who eats and drinks first.
What finches eat
- They usually prefer to eat a variety of seeds like sunflower and nyjer seeds. However, they also like buckwheat, wheat and rye.
- During times of food scarcity or the breeding season, finches take to a diet of insects, fruits and berries.
- The diet of pet finches can also be substituted with fruits, vegetables and boiled eggs.
Nesting habits of finch birds
- Like all birds, finches also build their nests in places where it would be safe from predators and other danger.
- Both the male and female finches collaborate in building the nest. While the males bring the construction materials like rootlets, twigs and leaves, the females use the materials to build the nest.
- In captivity, finches may accept an artificial nest or build a nest of their own when provided with the building material of their choice.
Baby finches and finch lifespan
- After laying the eggs, the mother finches incubate them for 12 to 14 days. Once the eggs hatch, the baby finches stay with the parents for the next 14 to 20 days.
- During the time the female finches are busy with incubating the eggs and tending to baby finches, the male finches feed the females, who, in turn, feed the nestlings.
- Parent finches begin to wean baby finches when they are between 4 and 6 weeks old. Weaning begins in the form of giving less food to the nestlings to prod them to go in search of food on their own.
- In some cases, parents may also chase baby finches away by growling or plucking their feathers.
- In the wild, finches usually have a lifespan between 4 and 7 years. However, protected and well cared for, captive finches have a much longer lifespan and may live beyond 10 years.
Finch Bird Information
Are finches found in India?
Being a passerine bird, finches are also found in India. Some of the finch species are:
Red-browed finch (Callacanthis burtoni)
- This species is found in the northern regions of the Indian subcontinent. Its habitat ranges across Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and Nepal.
- This finch bird prefers to live in forests and shrub land with temperate climate.
- It is also called the spectacled finch because of a patch of red feathers around the eyes which meet at the forehead.
- The feathers on the body of the male finch are reddish or reddish brown. The wings and the tail feathers are black with white spots.
- It grows to about 17–18cm long and is considered to be a large bird of the finch family.
Red-headed bullfinch (Pyrrhula erythrocephala)
- The habitat of this finch extends across India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan and Tibet.
- In India, the red-headed bullfinch is found in the temperate forests of Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and West Bengal.
- This species lives at elevations of 2400–4200m. However, the birds descend to lower altitudes during the breeding season.
- The feathers on the head and breast of the male finch are orange in colour. The wing feathers are soft grey and black.
- This is a medium-large finch bird that can grow up to 17cm long.
Orange bullfinch (Pyrrhula aurantiaca)
- This finch is found in the conifer forests of both northern India and Pakistan.
- In India, it is found in the states of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand.
- The male bird’s head and chest are covered in yellow feathers. The area around the eyes, forehead and beak are black in colour. The wings and tail also have black feathers.
- It forages on the ground, looking for seeds and berries.
- The size of the orange bullfinch is approximately 14cm and it weighs between 17 and 22g.
Pink-browed rosefinch (Carpodacus rodochroa)
- This finch species is found across India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan and Tibet. In India, this bird is commonly seen in Shimla.
- It was described for the first time by Nicholas Aylward Vigors in 1831.
- Its natural habitat includes subtropical or tropical dry forests and boreal forests.
- The pink-browed rosefinch is a medium-sized bird which measures around 14 to 15cm in length and weighs between 16 and 20g.
A few other species of finches are also found in India. These include the:
Himalayan beautiful rosefinch (Carpodacus pulcherrimus)
Himalayan white-browed rosefinch (Carpodacus thura)
Spot-winged rosefinch (Carpodacus rodopeplus)
Finch species from across the world
Gouldian finch (Erythrura gouldiae)
- This species is found in the northern parts of Australia. They are also known by the name Rainbow finch, Lady Gouldian Finch, Purple Breasted Finch and Gouldian Grassfinch.
- This is the only finch that nests in hollows in trees or termite mounds.
- In 75% of Gouldian finches, the colour of the face is black. It is red in 25% of the population. A miniscule number also have a yellow-coloured face.
- Their usual diet consists of seeds. However, during the breeding season, they begin eating insects for more protein.
- The Gouldian finch measures between 13 and 15cm and weighs around 14g. Less than 2,500 of them remain in the wild now.
European goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis)
- The European Goldfinch is found in Europe, North Africa, Middle East and Western Asia. It was introduced in Australia and New Zealand in the late 1800s.
- The word ‘goldfinch’ was used to describe a wealthy person in the early 18th century.
- When looking for a spot to build nests, this bird prefers fruit trees. It also prefers to bathe in the morning and at dusk.
- This finch has a bright red patch on the face, a yellow patch on the wings and white markings on the tail.
- It grows to a size of 12 to 13.5cm and weighs between 14 and 19g.
Owl finch (Taeniopygia bichenovii)
- The owl is found in North and East Australia. It is also known as Bicheno Finch, Double-barred finch and Clown finch.
- The owl finch cannot bear excessive heat or cold. It lives in semi-arid and sub-humid areas in colonies of 4 to 20 birds.
- It has a special method of drinking water. It drinks by tipping its bill into water and uses its tongue to scoop the water into its pharynx, from where it is forced into the oesophagus.
- The owl finch produces a unique call which is similar to that of a cat meowing.
- They grow to a size between 10 and 11cm and weigh between 7 and 12g.
Star finch (Neochmia ruficauda)
- This bird is a native of Northeast and North Australia. This species prefers to live in swampy areas with tall grasses.
- This bird is also called the Red-faced finch, Ruficauda and Rufous-tailed finch.
- The star finch is a hardy bird that adapts to different situations and is not fussy about food. So, birds of this species make good pets.
- This species is listed as critically endangered as its numbers are decreasing due to the loss of habitat and food sources.
- The average size of this bird is 11cm and it has a lifespan of approximately 8 years.
Zebra finch (Taeniopygia guttata)
- This species is a native of Central Australia, Indonesia and East Timor. However, nowadays, they are found in almost every continent.
- This bird is so named because it has black and white stripes on the rump and upper tail.
- This is the fastest maturing bird as it is able to breed just after 70–80 days of birth.
- This finch has a better sense of smell than other birds and uses it to locate its mate and nestlings.
- Zebra finch can grow up to 10cm and lives for approximately 5 to 7 years.
Interesting trivia about finches
- The American goldfinch is the state bird of Washington, New Jersey and Iowa.
- Russian poet Osip Mandelstam, and English poets William Cowper and Anna Laetitia Barbauld wrote poems on finches.
- The European finch was a favourite subject of painters and can be seen in many paintings.
- A caged finch is used a symbol of repressed humanity, and a free bird represents liberty.
- The finch is also a symbol of liveliness and better times ahead in life.
Until a few decades ago, the population of finches was flourishing. However, with increasing urbanisation, some species of finches are on the verge of becoming extinct.
Although small in size, finches help us in a very special and important way. They consume a lot of weed seeds, thus decreasing the amount of weeding work we need to do. Finches also help to disperse seeds and aid in afforestation.
By helping restore the natural habitat of finches, not only would we help these little birds thrive but also help the environment.
About the author:
Written by Arun Sharma on 21 February 2020
The author was associated with the healthcare industry before becoming a full-time writer and editor. A doting father to two preteens, he believes in experiential learning for his children. Also, he loves mountain trekking and nature trips.
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