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Breeding Birds: House Finch

March 24, 1989|Clipboard researched by Susan Davis Greene and Rick VanderKnyff / Los Angeles Times; Graphics by Doris Shields / Los Angeles Times

HOUSE FINCH (Carpodacus mexicanus)

Description: Male has brown cap; front of head, bib and rump are typically red but can vary to orange; underparts are streaked. Adult females and juveniles are brown-streaked overall.

Habitat: Semi-arid slopes and scrub, open woodland, urban areas, cultivated land.

Diet: Primarily seeds, supplemented by fruit, buds and tree sap.

Displays: During courtship the singing male follows female, fluttering wings; hops about female with raised tail, drooped wings, raised head and crest feathers, continues singing. Female may sing short song.

Nest: Cavity nest of twigs, grass, debris, leaves, rootlets, hair. May appropriate other species' nests.

Eggs: Bluish white or pale bluish green, sparsely marked with brown or black.

Song: Lively, high-pitched song consisting mainly of varied three-note phrases.

Natural history note: Most widespread of Orange County's native passerine (perching) birds.

Note: Map is divided into 5-kilometer squares so that Audubon Society volunteers can more easily survey areas on a regular basis. (Hash marks) Indicates 5-kilometer-square areas where breeding activity has been confirmed.

Sources: Sea and Sage Audubon Society; "The Birder's Handbook," Ehrlich, Dobkin and Wheye, Fireside Books (1988); "Field Guide to the Birds of North America," National Geographic Society (1987); "Birds of Southern California: Status and Distribution," Garrett and Dunn, Los Angeles Audubon Society (1981).

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