In the state of Colorado you may encounter twelve different species of finches.
These finches are:
- House Finch
- Purple Finch
- American Goldfinch
- Lesser Goldfinch
- Scaly-breasted Munia
- Red Crossbill
- Pine Siskin
- Evening Grosbeak
Alabama is a southeastern state in the United States’ southern region.
The state is in close proximity to Tennessee, Georgia, Florida, the Gulf of Mexico, as well as Mississippi. Alabama is known for its humid and subtropical climate that features extremely hot summers and particularly mild winters.
Both its climate and stunning landscape make Alabama home to 21 state parks that boast nearly 50,000 acres of land and water.
Not to mention, this distinctive geographic location and weather provide a wonderful home to a number of bird species.
Finches in particular are abundant in Alabama, with 8 species being spotted throughout the state!
In fact, you’ll most likely discover the House Finch while in Alabama, although you may have a bit more of a challenge finding the Evening Grosbeak.
Below is a comprehensive list of Finch species seen in Alabama, along with their interesting profiles.
What Finches can be seen in Alabama?
Table of Contents
1. House Finch
William Whitehead, XC629127. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/629127.
- A finch’s diet is dependent on the type of beak they have. House Finches have a seed feeding beak as seeds are their main source of food. The most popular seed for them is the black oil sunflower seed. They also eat certain types of flower buds and fruits, these incluce cherries and thistle.
- House Finches are only very small birds with a small weight range. They range from 16-27g and have only a tiny wingspan of 20-25cm.
House Finches are a smaller species of birds with relatively large beaks and long heads.
The males tend to vary in regard to their shades and intensities of red.
They typically have red heads and upper chests with grayish-brown napes, backs, and wings with streaks on their sides.
Some males are even known to be yellow or orange, while females are an overall dull grayish-brown color.
Throughout Alabama, House Finches are abundant with low conservation concern.
These birds are the most common in inland regions in all seasons. They are known to take habitat in open woodlands, especially in close proximity to buildings and homes.
House Finches have also been known to frequent gardens and bird feeders.
House Finches are known to breed anywhere from early spring to late autumn, nesting in deciduous and coniferous trees building nests from stems, leaves, rootlets, and even feathers.
You’ll easily identify these finches by their sharp ‘cheep’ sound that is often heard in flight, and even when they are perched.
2. Purple Finch
Peter Ward and Ken Hall, XC598463. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/598463.
- These birds have bills that are designed for breaking different seeds open. Their favourite seeds include black oil sunflower seeds and safflower seeds. They also enjoy eating nectar and occasionally consume flower buds.
- Purple Finches weigh just slightly more than House Finches at 18-32g. They also have very small wingspans which range from 22-26cm.
Purple Finches are medium sized finches known for their brilliant raspberry red color.
The adult male has a tie-dyed patterned crest, breast, back and rear. Females and immatures tend to be light brown on top with mostly white feathers on their underparts.
Purple Finches can be most readily seen during summer, and spotted during the winter, as the birds are migrating to warmer climates.
You’ll likely see these finches taking habitat in Alabama’s abundant coniferous and forests with openings.
During the winter months, they are also readily seen visiting suburban areas like backyard bird feeders.
These finches breed during the late spring and summer months, nesting in the crotches of conifer trees.
Take note of the adult’s identifiable ‘tick’ call while in flight, as well as the ‘peewee’ sound of the immatures.
3. American Goldfinch
Russ Wigh, XC610948. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/610948.
- American Goldfinches have a beak designed for eating small seeds. Nyjer seeds being a favourite of theirs. They rarely eat anything outside of the seed family.
- These finches are slightly smaller than the other finches that we’ve looked at, weighing only 11-20g. They also have a very tiny wingspan which measure 19-22cm.
American Goldfinches are a particularly small species of finch, known for their sharp and pointed beaks. Interestingly, the seasons influence the color of these birds.
During the spring and summer, adult males are usually a bright yellow color with black foreheads and wings.
Females, however, are a pale yellow color on their underparts, but they are an olive color on their upperparts with distinctive bars on their wings. During the winter though, the females are brown.
You’ll find American Goldfinches throughout Alabama during all seasons.
They prefer to take habitat in fields with weeds and in floodplains where thistles are present.
Recently, they have also been known to take habitat in orchards and backyards, readily visiting feeders in the winter.
American Goldfinches breed mostly during the summer, although they have been known to breed into the autumn months.
They usually nest in shrubs in open settings. These finches are recognized for their unmistakable in-flight contact call that sounds like ‘po-ta-to-chip’.
4. Pine Siskin
William Whitehead, XC595659. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/595659.
- These birds have beaks designed for eating seeds and, as the name suggests, they mostly eat seeds from the pine family. As well as seeds, they have also been known to forage for small insects, these insects are usually aphids.
- Pine Siskins are very similar in size to the American Goldfinch, weighing in at a range of 12-18g. Like other finches, they also have small wingspans of 18-22cm.
Pine Siskins are a small species of finch with sharply pointed bills, short tails, and long wings.
The finches are streaked brown, displaying yellow on their wings and tails.
These finches are fairly common in the Alabama region, taking habitat in open woodlands. Pine Siskins are also known to frequent backyard feeders in close proximity to conifers.
Breeding season for these finches heavily depends on an adequate food supply. Pine Siskins have been known to breed during the early spring months, through the late summer.
They can even breed in cold temperatures, which is why food can heavily influence their breeding.
You can sometimes witness these birds in flocks with other finches like goldfinches.
Pine Siskins are particularly vocal, and you’ll recognize them by their unique buzzing sound that has been compared to the sound of a zipper.
5. Grey-Crowned Finch
Andrew Spencer, XC143945. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/143945.
- These birds will primarily eat seeds but have also been known to eat insects throughout the summer.
- These finches are slightly larger than others, they can weigh from 20-60g.
The Grey-Crowned Finch, also known as the Grey-Crowned Rosy-Finch, is a small finch with a rosy feathered breast and a grey feathered head. As with lots of finch species, the females will pick the nesting site and proceed to build the nest herself, using material such as moss and twigs.
These birds are monogamous during the breeding season and stay together after mating has occurred. The male will protect their territory and the female as she incubates their eggs.
These finches are usually found to the western half of Colorado and they are in the state in the non-breeding seasons. If you want to attract them to your garden, you should use feeders that have platforms rather than perches as they do not like to perch whilst eating. You should also fill these feeders with seeds, sunflower seed are a favourite of these finches.
6. Black Rosy Finch
Andrew Spencer, XC143904. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/143904.
- These birds will eat seeds year-round but will sometimes eat insects during the summer when they are more readily available.
- These finches are medium sized and have a weight range of 20-32g.
The Black Rosy Finch has pale red feathers on their underbellies and black feathers on their wings, back and breasts. Whilst these finches do make nests, the male does not protect this nest and instead protects the female.
He will follow her wherever she goes and is sure to protect her from any other approaching males. Outside of the breeding season they are very social and in the winter they will flock together, sometimes these flocks will reach numbers of 1000 individuals.
Similar to the Grey-Crowned Finch, the Black Rosy Finch is only found in Colorado during the non-breeding seasons. They are usually found in the western and central areas of the state.
You are most likely to see these birds in your garden during the winter months. They enjoy seed feeders filled with nyjer and sunflower seeds. Use platform feeders rather than perch feeders.
7. Brown-Capped Rosy Finch
Andrew Spencer, XC87646. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/87646.
- They mostly eat seeds but have been known to eat insects and spiders.
- They are medium sized and weigh 23-32g.
The Brown-Capped Rosy Finch has a rose coloured underbelly, brown feathered heads and plumages. These finches have been less studied than other species of finch, very little is known about their mating behaviours and social tendencies both in and out of the breeding seasons.
It is known that they do like to make their nests on cliffsides and under rocks where available. The female will usually build this nest with materials such as grass and stems.
Their distribution has not been fully mapped across America yet. However, they seem to mostly reside in the central areas of the Colorado State.
They are usually more abundant outside of the breeding season as well. These birds will happily use man-made bird feeders, get ones that are suitable for seeds and use a variety of different seeds to try and attract them.
8. Cassin’s Finch
Richard E. Webster, XC621695. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/621695.
- These birds primarily feed on seeds, however they do eat insects when they are available.
- These finches are slightly larger than the others, weighing in at 24-34g.
These finches have pale red heads plumages, though females show no red feathers. The females pick the nesting site and do most of the nest building themselves.
Whilst she is building a nest, the male will fly around the site and defend her and their territory from any other approaching males. These finches will join different species of foraging finches during the winter to help each other search for food. Not much is known about the structure of these colonies.
These birds can be found in Colorado throughout the year and are most common in the western and central areas of the state. These finches will visit gardens more frequently in the winter when food is scarce. Your best bet to attract one is to use seed feeders filled with sunflower seeds.
9. Common Redpoll
Ulf Elman, XC628446. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/628446.
- These birds only have very small bills meaning they can only eat tiny seeds.
- They are average sized for a finch, weighing 11-20g.
The Common Redpoll has a small patch of red feathers on its head and a frosty red plumage. As with lots of other finches, females will pick the nesting site and do most of the work when it comes to actually building the nest.
They will steal from other nests to make theirs. Males begin courting females by flying in slow circles around females whilst making a mating call.
Whilst the Common Redpoll can be found in Colorado across the whole state, they are not very common. It is only winter months which they will be in the state, widening their search for food and increasing their visits to backyards.
If you want to bring one of these finches to your garden make sure to have appropriate bird feeders which can hold very tiny seeds. Nyjer seeds are a particular favourite of the Common Redpoll.
10. Red Crossbill
Stanislas Wroza, XC626649. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/626649.
- The Red Crossbills mostly feed on seeds, particularly pine seeds. During the summer they will also sometimes eat insects.
- Due to their varied and unstudied sizes, there is no average weight range for this bird.
Red Crossbills are small birds recognized by their distinct crossed bill and large heads.
The adult males are a pale red-orange color with grayish-brown highlights.
Females, though, are generally a pale, olive-yellow color. Juveniles resemble a more dull version of the females, although they are streakier.
Interestingly, Red Crossbills are recognized as having moderate conservation concern though they are still present during all seasons in Alabama.
They like to take habitat in Alabama’s mature coniferous woodlands where they nest inside dense foliage.
Take note that the Red Crossbill’s breeding habitats can be quite unpredictable! Some of these finches breed in the winter and spring months, however they have been known to breed in any season.
These are very social birds, so it should come as no surprise if you see them out and about!
You’ll recognize Red Crossbills due to their loose trills and warbles that somewhat mimic an in-flight call. Be aware that it is the male finch that has this call.
11. White-Winged Crossbill
Doug Hynes, XC613110. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/613110.
- These birds mostly eat seeds throughout the year but have been known to eat insects in the summer as well.
- These birds are on the larger side of average for finches and weigh 22-28g.
These finches, like the Red Crossbill, have a distinct beak that crosses over. They have red heads and plumages with black wings. They have striking white tips on their wings. To court a female, males will perch in high places and sing a mating song, sometimes this song will be performed in groups.
When a female approaches a male, they will nip at each other’s beaks before the male starts feeding the female and the courtship is solidified. Males will protect the female whilst she is nesting and, unlike lots of other finch species, the males will take care of the young whilst females seek another partner.
White-winged Crossbills have been seen across the whole state of Colorado. They can only be seen year-round in the very north western regions of the state. As for the rest of the state they are only seen outside of the breeding seasons, mainly in early winter.
You will be very lucky to see one of these birds in your garden but placing seed feeders in there will increase your chances. They particularly like to eat tamarack and fir seeds.
12. Lesser Goldfinch
Paul Marvin, XC549158. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/549158.
- These finches mostly eat seeds however they will also consume fruit from time to time, such as elderberries. In summer they will also eat certain types of flowers.
- These finches are the smallest of the species that we have previously looked at, they weigh only 8-11.5g with a wingspan of 15-20cm.
Lesser Goldfinches are a notably small species of bird known for their small heads, and sharply pointed, blackish bills.
The adult males of this species typically have green or black backs. Females, however, have olive colored backs, pale yellow underparts, black wings, and white wing bars.
Lesser Goldfinches prefer to take habitat in open country areas, open woods, and have been known to take habitat in gardens.
These finches can be spotted in dry country close to water or on woodland edges. In Alabama, you can spot small flocks of these birds in weedy fields near streams as they feed on seeds and insects.
These finches are known to breed in the early spring and mid-autumn months, nesting in the vertical fork of twigs in trees or shrubs. Lesser Finches have an interesting sound resembling a medley of twittering notes
We are avid bird-watchers who recently retired, allowing us more time to travel the world. Fortunately, we have managed to visit numerous countries around Europe, Asia, and America. Watching and photographing birds has been a passion for many years and we are making the most of the extra time on our hands!