Friday, August 4, 2023

Irresistible! Attract House Finches to Your Feeder

House Finches may be found at nearly every bird feeder in the United States!

They add a lively splash of color and activity to your feeders.

How do you attract House Finches to your bird feeder? Follow these suggestions to attract House Finches to your yard.

Photo of House Finch
Male House Finch. Greg Gillson

Why attract House Finches to your bird feeder?

House Finches are very social. They hang out in small flocks throughout the year. Flock size is commonly 5 to 12 birds, sometimes up to 50.

Male House Finches sing throughout the year, though more so in spring and summer.

They are always lively and noisy--but in a happy, chirping way. Though they can get a bit feisty sometimes. 

These birds are easy to attract to your bird feeder. They are often one of the first birds to visit after you first set up your feeder.

House Finches feed seeds to their nestlings, not insects as many similar seed-eating birds do. Thus, they will visit your bird feeder in summer, even as many other birds have abandoned the feeders during the nesting season. 

Look for the young House Finches to visit your feeders with their parents in early summer. They will be begging for food from their parents even while sitting at the bird feeder! Look for fuzzy down feathers sticking out from their crown.

The red color on the forehead and breast of the males varies quite a bit in hue and intensity. This is influenced by diet. The red tends toward orange-red. Occasionally, House Finch males are yellow.

Females lack red color and are very streaky below. Thus, you can always tell the males and females apart when they visit your feeder.

All these attributes bring joy and excitement to your bird feeders.

Photo of House Finch
Female House Finch. Greg Gillson

What foods will attract House Finches to your feeder?

House Finches really love black oil sunflower seeds. They like the seeds in the shell better then sunflower kernels with shells already removed!

They crack the shell by chewing and then extract the meaty kernel with their tongue. Then they let the shell halves fall to the ground.

If you feed mixed seed, the House Finches will eat the sunflower seeds first. Then they'll move on to the other seeds. But they may throw out the other seeds as they search for sunflower seeds.

The best mixed bird seed that I have found is Wagner's Songbird Supreme (Amazon affiliate link). It is 50% sunflower seeds and doesn't have any cheap filler seed that birds won't eat. This seed attracts the largest variety of birds to your feeder.

House Finches will occasionally eat Niger seed from thistle or finch feeders.

House Finches will also eat berries, and fruit, including oranges and cherries.

Photo of House Finch
House Finch eating black oil sunflower seed. Greg Gillson

What kind of feeders do House Finches like?

House Finches love to eat from tube feeders. They are able to fend off House Sparrows better from tube feeders than from platform or hopper feeders.

Of course, they will also clean up spilled seeds from the ground.

I really love the way my iBorn tube feeder (Amazon affiliate link) looks, with its copper top.  A screwdriver takes off the lower perch and opens it up for cleaning. This feeder filled with black oil sunflower seeds attracts all types of finches, chickadees, and nuthatches. The smaller perches and lack of tray mean that you'll have fewer House Sparrows, Starlings, Doves, and Jays at this feeder.

I created this video on House Finches at your feeder to accompany this article.

Where to place your bird feeder for House Finches

House Finches aren't picky when it comes to bird feeder placement.

A tube feeder on a shepherds hook out in the lawn is fine. They don't mind being in the open. When frightened they fly up into nearly trees or utility wires to watch for danger to pass.

They will eat from hopper feeders on your deck railing.

They will eat from small window-mounted feeders, too!

Just, in general, bird feeders should be placed above 4 feet in height to keep them safer from attacks from house cats.

They will also eat spilled seed on the ground.

Photo of House Finch
House Finch. Greg Gillson

How else can you attract House Finches to your yard?

House Finches seem to like to drink from the bird bath after eating.

They also bathe in bird baths. They like shallow water. And moving or dripping water really attracts them.

They eat buds and thistle seeds from weedy patches and fields. They will like foraging in an overgrown weedy garden in fall. But you might be able to attract them with a wildflower plot.

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House Finches will not nest in a bird nest box. But they frequently build a nest in a wreath hanging on your door. 

True to their name, they may also build a messy nest on a shelf or corner of a building, or on top of a porch light.

Photo of House Finch
House Finch. Greg Gillson

Problems with House Finches: If you have attracted too many to your feeder

Because they are always in flocks, House Finches seem more susceptible than most to bird diseases spread at feeders. Avian conjunctivitis is a common House Finch disease, causing swollen eyelids, lethargy, and death.

If you see sick or lethargic birds at your feeder--or wildlife agencies announce it, stop feeding birds immediately. Empty bird baths. Take down bird feeders. Clean bath and feeder with bleach. Keep birds away for at least 2 weeks before setting them up again.

House Finches don't eat suet very often. If they do, it is perhaps because of added fruit or nuts.

But for your other birds, you may consider feeding suet.

For my home feeders, I always purchase St Albans Bay Suet blocks (Amazon affiliate link). It comes in several flavors, including peanut and berry. They fit in required special suet cages, which are a type of bird feeder. 

I bought a Nature's Way Upside-down suet feeder (Amazon affiliate link) a couple years ago and have been very happy with it. Chickadees, nuthatches, bushtits, and woodpeckers eat from it easily. But starlings, blackbirds, and jays can't hang upside down to get at the suet.

House Finch FAQ

Ask questions in the comments below about attracting and feeding House Finches and I'll add the answer here!


Why aren't birds coming to your feeder?

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