Animals

Meet the 9 Finches That Call Florida Home (and How to Properly ID Each!)

Finches, who belong to the family Finglilidae, are agile songbirds with an array of vivid colors. These tiny birds may be small and compact, but they are feathered powerhouses with strong beaks that can smash apart seeds and nuts. Let’s examine the finches that live in Florida and learn how to correctly identify each one!

1. American Goldfinch (Spinus tristis)

The vivid yellow feathers of the American goldfinch make it simple to identify this bird, which may be found all over North America. These happy birds love partly open spaces in Florida that have a wonderful mix of low vegetation, scattered trees, and shrubs. In Florida, one can frequently see American goldfinches in fields and orchards, weedy meadows and fields, and even backyards of suburban homes.

How to Identify American Goldfinches

Size About 4.3 to 5.1 inches long.
Males During the breeding season, male birds sport vibrant yellow feathers, accented by black wing bars with white patches and black foreheads. Outside of the breeding season, they have drab brown feathers, sometimes with a yellowish head.
Females Female birds have pale yellow or brownish/olive-brown feathers and bold black and white bars on their wings. During the breeding season, they have yellow feathers below. They look similar to the males, but are paler or duller yellow and lack the bold black feathers on the head.

2. Lesser Goldfinch (Spinus psaltria)

The lesser goldfinch is equally as brilliant and lovely as the American goldfinch, although being smaller. These acrobatic birds are easily recognized as they flutter about thanks to their brilliant yellow feathers. Their preferred habitats are semi-open ones with a wonderful blend of shrubs, trees, and weedy fields. They are frequently seen in Florida’s open fields, woodland margins, and coastal scrublands, particularly in the spring and summer. They especially enjoy thistle, daisy, and sunflower seeds.

How to Identify Lesser Goldfinches

Size About 4 to 5 inches long.
Males Adult males have bright yellow feathers with glossy black caps. Their backs are dark, either black or dull green. Their wings are also dark and have white patches.
Females and immature males Female and young male birds have olive feathers with dull yellow underneath. Their black wings have white bars.

3. House Finch (Haemorhous mexicanus)

If you reside in Florida, you have probably encountered house finches before. These adorable little birds like human-modified settings that offer abundance of food and shelter, which is why they frequently stay in urban areas like parks and residential neighborhoods. These birds are highly gregarious, congregating in melodious flocks while consuming fruits, seeds, and insects.

How to Identify House Finches

Size 5.1 to 5.5 inches long.
Males Male house finches are easy to spot, with vibrant, rose-colored feathers on their heads and breasts. However, depending on their diet, some birds have more yellow or orange coloring in place of these rose-red feathers. Their bodies and wings sport streaks of brown.
Females and immature males Female birds and young males have brown or grayish-tan bodies with blurry streaks of various brown hues

4. Purple Finch (Haemorhous purpureus)

Purple finches are not as common as some of their other cousins in Florida. They travel to the state mostly in the winter, from October to April. Purple finches usually like coniferous forest habitats, mixed woods, and sometimes even backyards that are suitable (usually ones that have an abundance of sunflower seeds!). A large portion of their time is spent at the top of the trees.

How to Identify Purple Finches

Size Around 4.7 to 6.3 inches long.
Males Purple finches get their name from the beautiful purplish-red colors of male birds — they look as if they have eaten one too many raspberries! This stunning raspberry-red coloring is seen on their heads, breasts, backs, and rumps, while there are streaks of brown on their backs and wings.
Females and immature males Females and young male birds are much more subdued than male birds and lack the raspberry red coloring. Instead, their bodies are boldly streaked with brown and white.

5. Pine Siskin (Spinus pinus)

The pine siskin is an active finch that frequently travels to the northern and central parts of the state of Florida. It is occasionally sighted there in the winter. These endearing tiny birds favor environments with lots of seeds for eating, such as mixed forests. Even in situations when they are invisible, their high-pitched, twittering calls are frequently audible. They are entertaining to see, though, if you are fortunate enough to witness them. As acrobatic feeders, pine siskins frequently hang over down to collect seeds.

How to Identify Pine Siskins

Size Around 4.3 to 5.5 inches long.
Males Male birds have brownish feathers on top with heavy dark brown streaks. Underneath their feathers are paler and have lighter-colored streaks. During the breeding season, however, males have a yellow breast and yellow bars on their wings.
Females Female birds also have brownish feathers with very bold streaks.

6. Evening Grosbeak (Hesperiphona vespertina)

Another winter visitor to Florida is the evening grosbeak, a somewhat chunky-looking bird. These birds are highly erratic in their migration habits, which are largely determined by the availability of food. Although they can be seen along the edges of woodlands and clearings, evening grosbeaks are more commonly found in mixed woodlands and coniferous forests.

How to Identify Evening Grosbeaks

Size Around 7.9 to 9.1 inches long with stocky bodies.
Males Male birds have beautiful yellow feathers, with dark gray or black heads. They have a bright yellow stripe over each eye and prominent white patches on their wings.
Females and Immature Males Female and young male birds have mostly gray feathers, with bold black and white patterns on their wings. There is also a tinge of yellow or greenish-yellow around their necks.

7. Red Crossbill (Loxia curvirostra)

These mid-sized finches prefer regions with high concentrations of coniferous trees, such as pine and spruce, that bear cones. Their distinctive bills are shaped so that the upper and bottom halves cross over one another, giving them access to the seeds inside pine cones.

How to Identify Red Crossbills

Size Typically 5.9 to 7.5 inches long, with stocky bodies.
Males Males have red or reddish-orange bodies with darker brownish-red wings.
Females Female birds have yellowish-colored feathers with darker wings.
Juveniles Young red crossbills are brownish-gray with heavy streaking.

8. Common Redpoll (Acanthis flammea)

The common redpoll does not often visit Florida because it is a bird of prey found in the boreal woodlands of the arctic tundra. Nonetheless, infrequent and uncommon sightings of these stunning birds have been reported in the state during the winter. Common redpolls are noisy, gregarious birds that are seen and heard in open areas such as fields and meadows. They can also occasionally be seen in backyards with feeders, marshes, and wetlands (they particularly enjoy thistle and nyjer seeds).

How to Identify Common Redpolls

Size Around 4.3 to 5.1 inches long.
Males Male birds have brown-streaked bodies with light-colored undersides. Their most distinguishing feature is the vibrant red feathers on the crown of the head and the pinkish-red feathers on their chest.
Females and immature males  Female and young male birds have brown bodies with lots of streaks. Their undersides are lighter, and they have a tiny little red patch of feathers on the crown of the head.

9. Yellow-Fronted Canary (Crithagra mozambica)

Despite being native to sub-Saharan Africa, a handful of these unusual birds have been seen in Florida. Their name is Yellow-fronted Canary. These stunning yellow birds sing in a high pitch with lovely tunes. In addition to their usual habitats of grasslands and open forests, yellow-fronted canaries can also be found in mangroves, sand dunes, and coastal scrub.

How to Identify Yellow-Fronted Canaries

Size Around 4 to 5 inches long.
Males Adult male birds have bright yellow feathers, with dark stripes through the eyes and below the beak. Their backs and wings are darker with faint outlines of yellow.
Females Although similar to males in appearance, female yellow-fronted canaries are much less brightly colored.

Uncommon Visiting Finches in Florida

Extremely Rare Finches Spotted in Florida

In addition to the many finches that call Florida home, a few unexpected species have been spotted around the state. However, these are extremely rare, and some have only been observed once in Florida:

  • White-winged crossbill (Loxia leucoptera)
  • Common chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs)
  • European Goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis)
  • European Greenfinch (Carduelis chloris)

“False” Finches in Florida

The scientific family Fringillidae, which includes birds like redpolls, siskins, canaries, grosbeaks, serins, and euphonias, is home to “true” finches. Usually petite and colorful, these birds have tiny conical beaks. Even though they are not actually a member of the finch family at all, a wide variety of other birds are also referred to as finches. The “false” finches that can be found in Florida are these ones:

  • Scaly-breasted munia (Lonchura punctulata)
  • Tricolored munia (Lonchura malacca)
  • Rose-breasted grosbeak (Pheucticus ludovicianus)
  • Black-headed grosbeak (Pheucticus melanocephalus)
  • Blue grosbeak (Passerina caerulea)
  • Lazuli bunting (Passerina amoena)
  • Indigo bunting (Passerina cyanea)
  • Varied bunting (Passerina versicolor)
  • Painted bunting (Passerina ciris)
  • Cuban bullfinch (Melopyrrha nigra)
  • Greater Antillean bullfinch (Melopyrrha violacea)