Finches Come in All the Colors of the Rainbow

Updated on September 30, 2017
Male Purple Finch is one of my favorite birds; but then I love them all!
Male Purple Finch is one of my favorite birds; but then I love them all! | Source

Beautiful and musical, Mother Nature has created finches for our pleasure. They are most helpful when ridding us of weed seeds, and serenading us with their cheerfully expressive songs. Smaller finches range in size from 5" to 6”, while grosbeaks are the largest at 8”. Besides seeds and grains, finches love fruits and berries.

Common Redpoll working at a seed in its beak.
Common Redpoll working at a seed in its beak. | Source
A look-alike cousin to the purple finch, Cassin’s finch has a peak at the top of its head; and this bird likes to add bits of other birds’ songs to finish its own lovely warbling musical extravaganza.  It is most often found in western mountain woods
A look-alike cousin to the purple finch, Cassin’s finch has a peak at the top of its head; and this bird likes to add bits of other birds’ songs to finish its own lovely warbling musical extravaganza. It is most often found in western mountain woods | Source

Red

Both Cassin’s Finch and the Common Redpoll are classified as red finches. Redpolls are an irruptive species, meaning they occur in large numbers where they don’t usually appear. This happens because they follow the food source. If that source is more plentiful in a different area, that’s where they head—by the hundreds of thousands. Socially oriented and extremely talkative, they descend upon backyard bird feeders in winter to early spring, depending upon the temperature.

Redpolls live and forage in the boreal forests of Canada and the arctic tundra. When they showed up at my feeders shortly after Christmas this year, I was thrilled. My personal count was 75, but I know that lots of backyard birders saw many hundreds of these awesome little finches this past winter. Redpolls seem to often follow the food sources with an adventurous aplomb!

House Finch, Orange Variant.
House Finch, Orange Variant. | Source

Orange

House finches are usually red, but this orange variant happens because of their diet. Favorite foods include mustard seeds, mulberries, apricots, peaches, strawberries, figs, sunflower seeds and millet. Whether they are orange or red is dependent upon the amount of carotenoids that are present in the food sources. Another very social bird, they are fond of nesting very near humans and their possessions. House finches are not fussy about where they live; a hanging plant, trellised ivy, dryer vent or window ledge will do nicely, thank you.

Bright yellow and black male goldfinch, olive green and black female goldfinch and some of the ever-present mourning doves.
Bright yellow and black male goldfinch, olive green and black female goldfinch and some of the ever-present mourning doves. | Source
Purple coneflower centers hold lots of potential seeds for my finches to enjoy.
Purple coneflower centers hold lots of potential seeds for my finches to enjoy. | Source

Yellow

Ah, my little drops of bright sunshine! That would be Goldfinches. Even if it is cloudy and overcast, the cheery yellow of my goldfinches always brightens my day.

I provide two tube feeders; one is filled with sunflower seeds and the other with nyjer or thistle seeds. Often they can be seen on both at the same time.

Purple coneflowers, thistles and wildflowers of all kinds that produce seeds heads are magnets for these energetic fliers. In the wintertime their feathers change from yellow to olive green.

The year round drab yellow/olive green of the female serves to successfully camouflage her at the nest and while foraging under the bird feeders.

Greenfinch
Greenfinch | Source

Green

Greenfinches are small European and Asian finches that love hedges and farmlands. Their beautiful songs have so captured the hearts of all who hear them that they are regularly caught and caged like parakeets. In the wild they are fond of travelling in large flocks and foraging for seeds and berries.

They remind me of female American Goldfinches.

Blue

The gorgeous Blue Grosbeak is not commonly seen. Its preferred habitat is hedgerows, thick undergrowth, grassy hillsides and weedy ditches. A shy bird, it does not live near humans on purpose!

I have occasionally heard their lyrical song, which is similar to a purple finch, when I walk my rural road in the late spring. There are deep ditches on either side of my road, and grassy fields where the underground gas lines follow up and down the country hills. With no houses nearby, and woods and thick underbrush in which to hide, this is prime territory for blue grosbeaks. I hope one day to catch a glimpse!

Beautiful Blue Grosbeak is a lovely finch.
Beautiful Blue Grosbeak is a lovely finch. | Source
Male Indigo Bunting foraging beneath bird feeders.
Male Indigo Bunting foraging beneath bird feeders. | Source

Indigo

Indigo Buntings have captured my fancy of late because this is the first year they have chosen to stick around and entertain me with their awesome color. My Mom used to see them quite often at her bird baths.

So I am very pleased to have indigo buntings, male and female, foraging under the bird feeders. Adding fruits to the sunflower seeds seems to have done the trick! Sweet, sweet, chew, chew is their distinctive song while perched, then when they fly I hear them utter a funny buzzing sound.

Male Purple Finch and brown-streaked female purple finches share lunch with goldfinches.
Male Purple Finch and brown-streaked female purple finches share lunch with goldfinches. | Source

Violet

Last, but not least, are my gorgeous Purple Finches. I absolutely love their raspberry color. In fact they are also referred to as raspberry finches. These entertaining 6” charmers often come to my feeders in the wintertime. This past winter I had them show up in a snowstorm; braving the wind and snow, they continued to fill their beaks.

There are years when I don’t see them at all, and wonder where they have gone. This year they have been present since late winter, much to my delight. The female is almost a carbon copy of the female rose-breasted grosbeaks, only on a much smaller scale.

White Winged Snow Finch
White Winged Snow Finch | Source

White

Because white is the combination or presence of all the colors of the rainbow, I have included the White Winged Snow Finch. Only 6” in size, this beautiful bird is really a sparrow rather than a true finch. It eats mainly seeds and insects, and enjoys frequenting ski resorts throughout Europe!

Side view of Male Rose-Breasted Grosbeak.
Side view of Male Rose-Breasted Grosbeak. | Source
Female Rose-Breasted Grosbeak
Female Rose-Breasted Grosbeak | Source

Black

I can’t include white without also including black! So here is my beloved Rose-Breasted Grosbeak in all its glory. He’s about 8” with a beautiful voice to match his contrasting black, white and red colors. These birds have been visiting my feeders ever since we moved here, some 25 years now. They are fond of sunflower seeds, but love oranges, grapefruit, raisins, tree nuts, cherries and raspberries.

I eagerly await their springtime arrivals, and am pleased to see the newest generation appear at the bird feeders in early summer. Once the parents have successfully fledged their young, they head for the deep woods. The younger birds stay around for a couple of weeks, and then they disappear as well.

Their short stays grace my gardens with sweet songs and colorful sights, but it will be many months before I see and hear them again.

Elegant and gorgeous, a Male Rose-Breasted Grosbeak savors sunflower seeds.
Elegant and gorgeous, a Male Rose-Breasted Grosbeak savors sunflower seeds. | Source

Wild Foods Finches Love to Eat

Fruits, Flower Nectar
Seeds, Seed Heads
Crabapples
Wild Mustard
Blackberries
Mullein
Currants
Thistle
Strawberries
Asters
Honeysuckle Berries
Smartweed
Cherries
Milkweed
Huckleberries
Artichokes
Honeysuckle Flowers
Goldenrod
Artichokes make a beautiful and delicious statement in your garden.  They also provide food for both humans and seed-loving finches.
Artichokes make a beautiful and delicious statement in your garden. They also provide food for both humans and seed-loving finches. | Source

Grow Beautiful Artichokes to Attract Finches

Artichokes are easy to grow almost anywhere in the U.S., except where the summer is much too hot--that would be Florida. If your climate conditions support moist summers and mild winters, then you will probably be able to grow artichokes year round.

If your Zone is colder than an 8, artichokes can be grown as annuals each year. If you have a growing season of 90 or more days, then you will be okay. Artichokes are grown successfully as far north as the state of Maine. It is best to start them indoors in early spring and transplant them outside. In the late summer you will be eating fresh artichokes!

Growing Artichokes by groworganicpeacefulvalley

Three Ways to Grow Artichokes

  1. Seeds
  2. Shoots from existing plants
  3. Dormant roots

Growing Artichokes from Seeds:

Don't forget that artichokes are heavy feeders. Your seeds will need to be fertilized with fish emulsion or a similar product when first planted and as they continue to grow.

Seeds should be started indoors in 4" containers, and transplanted when the ground is warm and all danger of frost has past. Additionally, the seedlings should be approximately 8" to 10" tall, have strong stems and 2 sets of true leaves when set out in the ground.

Place them 5' to 6' apart to allow lots of room for the large plants to develop. Before placing them in the ground, add organic fertilizer or compost and 1/2 cup of bonemeal or bloodmeal to each planting hole. In mid summer, top dress with more organic fertilizer to make sure your artichokes are healthy and happy.

Hint: Plant more seeds than you would normally because not all of them will produce true artichoke plants. Remove the seedlings that don't look healthy or strong and transplant the rest.

Growing from Shoots or Roots--Preferred Method

Prepare the planting bed as described in the 2 1/2 minute video. Make sure to add organic compost or fertilizer. Leave plenty of room between the plants or roots so each one will receive enough nutrients. And at the end of the season, enjoy a very tasty treat. Your finches and other seed-eating birds will be pleased to see the wonderful seed heads full of nutrition just for them!


Have you seen finches in all the colors of the rainbow?

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Questions & Answers

    © 2013 Connie Smith

    Tell Me About Your Finches

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      • profile image

        Tracey Brandon 

        3 months ago

        I have a lot of the male & female yellow finches.

        This season I have been seeing more of the red head finches.

        I’m assuming that they are finches because they are bigger than they yellow ones. I use the socks and a lot of the seed falls to the ground but the doves love it. I was thinking about getting the feeders that the seed doesn’t go through but I think I will stick with the socks. The only thing is we have a major problem with the gophers. Any ideas on how to get rid of the gophers ? We have dogs so we can’t use anything poisonous. Thanks, Tracey

      • The Examiner-1 profile image

        The Examiner-1 

        5 years ago

        Yes, the Blue Jays are the ones that I hear most of the time too. I believe it is usually to chase crows in my area. I only hear them. The mockingbirds are the ones which I see.

      • grandmapearl profile imageAUTHOR

        Connie Smith 

        5 years ago from Southern Tier New York State

        The Examiner-1, it's amazing how the smaller birds show no fear when it comes to protecting their territory and families,isn't it! I heard the blue jays raising a ruckus the other day, and when I investigated I found they were making sure a hawk knew this was their territory!

      • The Examiner-1 profile image

        The Examiner-1 

        5 years ago

        It is interesting to watch male birds, titmice (and other species) peck at their reflections in windows, car mirrors, etc. Chickadees have been known to pluck hairs from humans, dogs, even other birds to place in their nest. I have watched the mockingbird that lives near my front yard chase away hawks. I watched as it flew from one side of the road to the other and harassed a crow while the crow 'strolled' down the road!

      • grandmapearl profile imageAUTHOR

        Connie Smith 

        5 years ago from Southern Tier New York State

        I love titmice, too! They are around all year long. You know, I have the craziest little guy--every year he throws himself at each of my windows! As I get one covered up, he heads for another one. He's feisty and ready to tackle any rival, even if it turns out to be his own reflection. This happens during the beginning of the breeding season in the spring; after that, he's back to his old gentle self. That's just a small part of why I love birds and bird watching. I suspect we are very much alike--the little chickadees around here are just like my pals. They are right there just as soon as I fill the feeders in the morning, as are my big old blue jays. Enjoy your day ;) Pearl

      • profile image

        The Examiner-1 

        5 years ago

        I chose the chickadee because it is on of my favorite birds. The other being the titmouse. They were two of the first ones that I saw when I began bird watching!

        P.S. - I also have the Peterson Guide.

      • grandmapearl profile imageAUTHOR

        Connie Smith 

        5 years ago from Southern Tier New York State

        The Examiner-1, I'm so glad those links worked better. You're right about the 'Field Guide' category. I also have the Audubon Field Guide, and the Stokes, but my favorite is 'Peterson Field Guide to Birds'. The colorful drawings show differences in birds within regions and species. By the way, I love your avatar of a chickadee! Have a great day ;) Pearl

      • The Examiner-1 profile image

        The Examiner-1 

        5 years ago

        grandmapearl

        Yes, the links worked this time. I did notice that they were a bit different than before. As for the 'Field Guide to Birds of North America' you have to be more specific which one. I tried to Google it and got several. I, myself, have Audubon Field Guide to Birds..., Stokes Field Guide to Birds..., for starters.

      • grandmapearl profile imageAUTHOR

        Connie Smith 

        5 years ago from Southern Tier New York State

        The Examiner-1 Here are the links for the Rose-Breasted and Blue Grosbeak. They worked for me when I tried them, so I hope they will work for you as well. Let me know if you have trouble with them: http://identify.whatbird.com/obj/205/_/Rose-breast...

        http://identify.whatbird.com/obj/207/_/Blue_Grosbe...

      • grandmapearl profile imageAUTHOR

        Connie Smith 

        5 years ago from Southern Tier New York State

        The Examiner-1, No problem! I invite your great comments and observations. You added some good information that I had not thought to mention ;) Pearl

        Not sure why those links did not work. I will try to figure that out and give you better links. Have a great day!

      • profile image

        The Examiner-1 

        5 years ago

        I tried clicking on the two 'whatbird' links and I got 'Runtime error' both times. ^?^

      • The Examiner-1 profile image

        The Examiner-1 

        5 years ago

        I apologize. I only said that because I have several bird books and I had never seen it mentioned. Sorry.

      • grandmapearl profile imageAUTHOR

        Connie Smith 

        5 years ago from Southern Tier New York State

        The Examiner-1, Thank you for visiting and taking the time to comment on my article. You are correct that both the Rose-breasted Grosbeak and the Blue Grosbeak are members of the Cardinalidae family; that includes Cardinals, Buntings and Allies. They are also listed as large finches, as are Cardinals.

        According to http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/finch:

        'any of numerous passerine songbirds (families Fringillidae, Estrildidae, Emberizidae, and Cardinalidae) having a short stout usually conical bill adapted for crushing seeds.'

        And 'The Field Guide to Birds of North America', Rose-Breasted Grosbeaks and Blue Grosbeaks are listed as large finches belonging to the Family of Cardinalidae: http://identify.whatbird.com/obj/205/Rose-Breasted Grosbeak.aspx

        http://identify.whatbird.com/obj/207/Blue Grosbeak.aspx

        This is why I chose to include them in this Hub.

        Thanks for adding this interesting information ;) Pearl

      • The Examiner-1 profile image

        The Examiner-1 

        5 years ago

        It was very interesting until I got to the part where I read about the Rose-breasted Grosbeak and the Blue Grosbeak. Then I had to mention that they are not in the finch family, instead they are in with the cardinals and allies.

      • grandmapearl profile imageAUTHOR

        Connie Smith 

        5 years ago from Southern Tier New York State

        Hi Eddy, I thought you had visited me here before as well--I have had some connectivity issues because of the tall trees, rain storms and wind lately. You may have been caught in the high-tech connection bubble! Anyway, I am so glad you liked this article.

        Birds are very intuitive beings; they can sense a kindred soul and spirit. And those are qualities you have in abundance, my friend. Isn't it grand to have such lovely companions at your table!

        I'm so glad you stopped by--it is always so good to see you ;) Pearl

      • Eiddwen profile image

        Eiddwen 

        5 years ago from Wales

        I have read this gem before and also thought that I had commented; oh well try again then.

        Your love of nature is so evident and after a visit to your nook I feel so positive and inspired.

        Finches are beautiful and we have a Bull finch who is a regular visitor to our table. Even when I sit next to it with a cuppa all the birds still visit and feel totally relaxed with me next to them. What can be more wonderful than that. Here's to so many more hubs for us both to share on here. lots of love my very dear friend from my little corner of Wales.

        Eddy.

      • grandmapearl profile imageAUTHOR

        Connie Smith 

        5 years ago from Southern Tier New York State

        Thank you Deb! I really appreciate your great feedback. I have my planting bed ready for the artichoke roots, so that should help call in more finches that I have not seen before. Perhaps even my elusive grosbeak will finally come out into the open! That would be a red-letter day for sure--take care my friend ;) Connie

      • aviannovice profile image

        Deb Hirt 

        5 years ago from Stillwater, OK

        life would not be th3e same without our wonderful little finches. Thereare so many of them that I have not seen. Maybe this will be my lucky year, too, Connie. Excellent work on a wonderful subject!

      • grandmapearl profile imageAUTHOR

        Connie Smith 

        5 years ago from Southern Tier New York State

        Thank you Joe. As always, you make me glad that I have such a supportive and loyal friend here on hubpages. And I'm happy you enjoyed my finches! I am committed to getting the word out about how important our little feathered friends really are. Have a wonderful day ;) Pearl

      • grandmapearl profile imageAUTHOR

        Connie Smith 

        5 years ago from Southern Tier New York State

        bravewarrior, I'm glad to see you, my friend! I have prepared a spot for my artichoke bed; they have to be planted each year here. I just need to go grab some more bone meal before I can tuck the roots in for the summer. Can't wait to harvest them in the fall. I'm sure my finches will appreciate the flowers and seed heads!

        Take care ;) Pearl

      • grandmapearl profile imageAUTHOR

        Connie Smith 

        5 years ago from Southern Tier New York State

        bac2basics, your comments really made my day! I do so love my little finches; they are so colorful, and their songs are most cheerful.

        I'm very glad you told me about your golden oriole. I hope they find a good tree in which to nest. Usually birds return to familiar places; and if there are changes, they seem to adapt fairly well. I sure hope your orioles stick around. My orioles give me a lot of pleasure.

        Thank you for your visit, and your wonderful comments ;) Pearl

      • grandmapearl profile imageAUTHOR

        Connie Smith 

        5 years ago from Southern Tier New York State

        Hi Carol, I'm very glad you stopped by to visit me and my finches! They are pretty, aren't they? I can't pick a favorite because they are all so beautiful. Maybe someday I'll get to go to Europe to see those little white-winged snow finches! Thanks my friend ;) Pearl

      • grandmapearl profile imageAUTHOR

        Connie Smith 

        5 years ago from Southern Tier New York State

        Thank you Billy! So many finches in such beautiful colors--that's the thing about birds that keeps me interested and happy. Color and nature are Me to the core! You are one of my most faithful supporters, and I cherish our friendship. Thank you for always being there for me, my friend ;) Pearl

      • hawaiianodysseus profile image

        Hawaiian Odysseus 

        5 years ago from Southeast Washington state

        Hi, Connie!

        One species of finch happens to be the WA State bird, so on that note, I found this article a compelling read. Your love for our avian friends saturates your hubs. Good for you for promoting this very special niche!

        Aloha!

        Joe

      • bravewarrior profile image

        Shauna L Bowling 

        5 years ago from Central Florida

        Pearl, I had no idea Finchs come in so many colors! Thanx for the info on growing artichokes. They are really, really good for you. There flowers are beautiful, too!

      • bac2basics profile image

        Anne 

        5 years ago from Spain

        Hi grandmapearl. You really excelled with this hub, not only passing on your knowledge about the birds habits and habitat, but also what foods will entice them into your garden, and then added a bit of gardening advice too, wow.

        I can´t believe the range of colours finches come in , in your neck of the woods, they really are striking.

        By the way, I heard a Golden oriole singing yesterday, do you remember I said I hadn´t heard them when I commented on your last hub, well it was only days later I heard that unmistakable call. Haven´t heard it since and hope they are not disappointed by what they have found this year following the fire, but there are still some very tall trees around, so I hope they nest as usual in the area around my house.

      • carol7777 profile image

        carol stanley 

        5 years ago from Arizona

        You do know your birds. This was most interesting and I always enjoy learning new things. Thanks for sharing all these bright colored birds.

      • billybuc profile image

        Bill Holland 

        5 years ago from Olympia, WA

        Finches are our most common bird in our backyard, but we haven't come close to seeing all of the ones you show in your great pictures. Hope springs eternal, though, so I'll keep watching and hoping.

        Great job my friend.

        bill

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