All Finches in California with Pictures

We’ll be showcasing the most commonly seen finches of California with stunning visuals and vital details. All the data has been gathered from dependable sources and authenticated by an Ornithologist to ensure accuracy.

American Goldfinch

American Goldfinch

(Carduelis tristis) is a small songbird that can be found in California. It has a bright yellow body and wings, with black streaks on its back, head, and wings. Its size ranges from 4-5 inches (10-13 cm). They feed mainly on black oil sunflower seeds, stems, buds and other plant material, as well as small insects.

They prefer open fields, gardens, parks and woodlands for habitat. American Goldfinches are social birds and can be found in large flocks throughout the year. During cold winter months, they will often flock together to find food, shelter and warmth. Behaviorally, goldfinches build nests of thistle down or other materials and line them with feathers.

They are also known for their pleasant song which often includes a variety of whistles and chirps. American Goldfinches are very important to the ecosystems in which they inhabit as they help disperse seeds throughout their range.

American Goldfinch range map

House Finch

House Finch

(Carpodacus mexicanus) is a small songbird native to western North America and widely introduced elsewhere. It is generally brown, streaked and reddish in color and measures about 5-6 inches (13-15 cm) in length with a wingspan of 8-10 inches (20-25 cm).

The male is more brightly colored than the female and has a pinkish-red face, chest, and rump.

The House Finch feeds on grains, seeds, buds, flowers and fruits of various plants. They typically eat a variety of weeds and waste grain as well as birdseed from feeders in open areas such as parks or yards. In the wild, they will often visit birdbaths for a drink.

House Finches typically inhabit open woodlands, grasslands, farms and residential areas with trees and shrubs. They usually build nests in thickets or other sheltered areas such as house eaves or tree cavities.

House Finches are social birds that move in flocks and forage together. They are also very vocal birds, and the males sing a pleasant warbling song to attract a mate. They are known to be aggressive towards other birds in order to protect their territory.

House Finch range map

Pine Siskin

Pine Siskin

(Spinus pinus) is a small songbird with a wingspan of 16 cm and lengths ranging from 11–14 cm. It typically has yellowish-streaked olive to gray plumage and white wing bars. Its diet consists mainly of seeds, buds, flowers, and insects. The Pine Siskin is found in coniferous forests, most commonly in western North America. It is a highly social species, forming flocks with other members of its kind and occasionally with other species.

They are agile birds that forage for food on trees and shrubs by clinging to tree branches with their claws or hovering over the ground. During breeding season, the male will perform courtship displays and song, while the female builds the nest. Pine siskins are monogamous and will return to their mate each year. They may also partake in cooperative breeding, with other members of their species helping raise young.

These birds have a distinctive high pitched call that is easily recognizable once heard. This species can often be found near birdfeeders, where they are happy to take advantage of the easy food source. They are also known to migrate in considerable numbers during winter months. It is believed that Pine Siskins can live up to 11 years in the wild.

Pine Siskin range map

Evening Grosbeak

Evening Grosbeak

(Coccothraustes vespertinus) is a large member of the finch family that can be found in California. It stands out from other finches due to its distinctive yellow and black plumage, with males having bright yellow heads, necks, and breasts. The Evening Grosbeak usually feeds on buds, fruits and seeds, but will also occasionally eat insects. It can grow up to 8 inches in length and has a wingspan of up to 12 inches.

The Evening Grosbeak is usually found in coniferous forests and thickets, although it is known to forage in city parks or gardens during the winter months. Its behavior is generally quite social, and it can often be seen in flocks of up to 30 birds. During the breeding season, it will sometimes form mixed-species flocks with other species of finches.

These birds are also known for their loud calls; males will sing a shrill song during courtship displays. The female Evening Grosbeak will usually lay a clutch of 4-7 eggs in a nest that is constructed from sticks and twigs. The young chicks are fed by both parents until they can leave the nest after 10-14 days. The Evening Grosbeak has been seen to live up to 11 years in the wild.

Evening Grosbeak range map

Black Rosy-Finch

Black Rosy-Finch

(Leucosticte atrata) is a species of finch that can be found in parts of California. It has a distinctive black head, neck and upper chest, with an underbelly that varies from pink to grey-brown depending on the bird’s age. Its wings are brownish-black spotted with white and it has a light-coloured beak. This finch has an omnivorous diet and usually feeds on seeds, grains, buds and flowers. It may also consume small insects for additional protein.

In terms of size, the Black Rosy-Finch is about 5 to 6 inches (13-15 cm) in length with a wingspan of 8 to 10 inches (20-25 cm).

The Black Rosy-Finch can typically be found in mountainous regions of California, especially during the breeding season. It is also known to inhabit alpine meadows and coniferous forests. During the winter months, these birds may migrate southward or eastward in search of warmer climates.

In terms of behaviour, the Black Rosy-Finch is a social bird and often forms large flocks with other finch species. It is an agile flyer, capable of quickly changing direction to avoid predators. During breeding season, the male will perform aerial displays to attract a mate and defend its territory. The female will build a nest made of grasses and twigs, usually near the ground. The female will incubate the eggs for about two weeks before they hatch. Both parents will help to feed the young chicks until they are ready to leave the nest after about 10-15 days.

Black Rosy-Finch range map

Red Crossbill

Red Crossbill

(Loxia curvirostra) is a species of finch found in the coniferous forests of California. It has a distinctive red bill that curves slightly at the end and can be used to help identify it. The Red Crossbill typically grows 5-7 inches long and has brown, black, and white feathers, with a reddish hue on its wings and tail.

The Red Crossbill primarily feeds on the seeds of coniferous trees like pines, spruces, and firs. It uses its curved bill to open cones and extract the seeds inside. It will also feed on fruits, buds, insects, and other small invertebrates when they are available.

Red Crossbills are found in a variety of habitats, including both deciduous and coniferous forests. It is often seen in open woodlands and along the edges of forested areas. They generally inhabit high elevations (above 5,000 feet) during nesting season, but may migrate lower to find food during the winter months.

The Red Crossbill is an active bird, often seen hopping between branches or flying in flocks to search for food. It is a social species that forms small family groups or larger flocks when feeding. During breeding season males will establish territories by singing to defend their area against other males. They are also known to engage in aggressive behavior towards other species of birds.

Red Crossbill range map

Purple Finch

Purple Finch

(Carpodacus purpureus) is a medium-sized bird native to North America. It has distinctive coloring with a rosy-red head, back, and wings, and a white underbelly. Male Purple Finches have brighter plumage than the females.

Foraging for food typically happens on the ground or in shrubs, and diet consists of seeds and insects. These birds are usually found in wooded areas, like forests, orchards, and suburban gardens.

Purple Finches measure 12 to 14 cm (4.7 – 5.5 in) from beak tip to tail tip, with a wingspan of 21 cm (8.3 in). They have a rather short, conical beak that is well suited for cracking open seeds.

Purple Finches aren’t particularly social birds and prefer to be alone or in pairs. During the breeding season they are more social and will form small flocks. In California, Purple Finches breed from around April through September.

When singing, the male Purple Finch has a loud and scratchy song that is often heard in the early morning or late afternoon. The female’s song is softer and more melodic. During mating season, males will perform certain behaviors to attract females, like flicking their wings or raising their beaks up into the air.

Purple Finch range map

Blue Grosbeak

Blue Grosbeak

(Guiraca caerulea) is a medium-sized songbird found in North America. It has steel blue upperparts, yellowish underparts with black streaks, and prominent white wing bars. Its head is topped with a black patch and its bold yellow breast gives it a distinctive look. This species prefers open areas, such as pastures, meadows and weedy fields. In California, it is often seen in the valley grasslands of the Central Valley.

The Blue Grosbeak feeds mainly on insects and seeds. Its diet includes caterpillars, beetles, grasshoppers, flies, spiders and other small invertebrates. It also feeds on various types of seeds, including those of grasses, sedges and wildflowers.

The Blue Grosbeak is a medium-sized bird, measuring 15-17 cm in length. It has a wingspan of 27-29 cm and weighs about 25-30 g. Its bill is short and fairly thick.

Blue Grosbeaks are monogamous and form long-term pair bonds that can last many years. They often nest in clusters, with multiple pairs nesting near each other. The nest is typically a cup made from grasses, weeds and other plant material, which is built by the female.

Blue Grosbeaks are mainly active during the day and are often seen foraging on the ground or in shrubs. They are relatively quiet, uttering only occasional chirps or buzzy notes. During courtship displays, males may sing a low-pitched rolling song from exposed perches to attract mates.

Black-headed Grosbeak

Black-headed Grosbeak

(Pheucticus melanocephalus) is a species of songbird native to western North America. It is easily identified by its bright yellow breast and black head. The remainder of its body is gray with white wing bars on the wings.

The Black-headed Grosbeak has a varied diet that consists mainly of plant matter and small insects. In California, its diet typically includes fruit, seeds, and berries from shrubs and trees as well as grasshoppers and other insects.

This species of finch is about 20–25 cm (7.9–9.8 in) long with a wingspan of 30–35 cm (12–14 in).

The Black-headed Grosbeak is found in forested areas, orchards, and riparian habitats across California. It typically avoids open spaces and prefers areas with dense shrubs where it can find cover from predators.

This species of finch is generally a solitary bird who only comes together for mating purposes in the winter. It is an active bird and will often be seen jumping from branch to branch while foraging for food or singing its distinctive song. This species of finch also has a unique chirping call that can be heard throughout the day in their habitats.

Black-headed Grosbeak range map

Pine Grosbeak

Pine Grosbeak

(Pinicola enucleator) is a species of finch native to North America. It can be found in the western mountains of Canada and the United States, including California. They are easily identified by their large size, colorful plumage (grayish-brown on top with rosy-pink underparts), deep bill, and forked tail.

Pine Grosbeaks primarily feed on berries, buds, and seeds from a variety of plants including mountain ash, juniper, and pines. They also forage for insects such as caterpillars and spiders to supplement their diet.

These birds reach sizes of up to 10 inches in length with wingspans of up to 16 inches. They typically inhabit coniferous forests and are often seen in high elevations, but have been known to frequent deciduous woodlots as well.

Pine Grosbeaks tend to be quite social and can often be seen in flocks of up to 30 birds. They are generally active during the morning and late afternoon hours, roosting in trees during the heat of the day. They are known to migrate south for the winter months, returning to their breeding grounds from March through April.

Pine Grosbeak range map

Lesser Goldfinch

Lesser Goldfinch1

(Spinus psaltria) is a small seed-eating bird native to California. It has a yellow-olive body and wings, with black face, throat, rump and tail. This species has a rather large bill compared to its size. The Lesser Goldfinch feeds largely on seeds found in weedy fields and agricultural areas, but will also take advantage of flowers in bloom for food. It is about 4-4.5 inches long and weighs 0.3 ounces, with a wingspan of 8-9 inches.

The Lesser Goldfinch prefers low shrubs and trees in open habitats such as chaparral, grasslands, or near riversides and wetlands. They are rarely found above 5,000 feet in elevation and can be seen in flocks all year round.

The Lesser Goldfinch is an active species that is known to forage on the ground or in trees, usually near water sources and where there is plenty of seed available. It constructs its nest rather close to the ground, often in dense shrubs. It has a variety of calls and songs that it uses for communication between members of the flock.

The Lesser Goldfinch also participates in short flights, during which its wings make a buzzing sound. This species is highly sociable and can be spotted in flocks consisting of up to 50 individuals. During the breeding season, males and females form strong pair bonds. This species is a valuable pollinator of sunflowers and other native plants in California.

Lesser Goldfinch range map

Lawrence’s Goldfinch

Lawrence's Goldfinch

(Spinus lawrencei) is a small bird native to California. This species of finch has yellow and black plumage, with a black cap, white wing bars and bright lemon-yellow below. It measures around 5 1/2 inches in length and weighs just over half an ounce.

The Lawrence’s Goldfinch is a seed eater, and it mainly feeds on seeds from conifers, shrubs and grasses. It also eats insects in the summer months as well.

This species of finch typically inhabits dry open oak woodlands, chaparral, savannahs and coastal hillsides in California. It builds nests made of twigs and grass lined with soft materials in trees or shrubs.

Lawrence’s Goldfinches are social birds that live in flocks, often mixed with other finch species. They can be seen foraging on the ground or in low bushes and trees, searching for food like tiny seeds. In flight, they appear jerky and fluttery, moving from branch to branch. They are vocal birds that call in a sharp “chip” sound. Males sing during courtship displays which involve puffing out their feathers and flying rapidly around females.

Lawrence's Goldfinch range map

Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch

Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch

(Leucosticte tephrocotis) is a species of finch found in various parts of North America, including California. They are small birds with a length of 15-17 cm and a wingspan of 24–27 cm. Gray-crowned Rosy-Finches have gray upperparts, white underparts with pinkish flanks, a gray crown and black around the face.

In terms of diet, Gray-crowned Rosy-Finches eat mostly seeds and insects such as grasshoppers, caterpillars and beetles. They are known to forage along roadsides in winter months when food is scarce.

Gray-Crowned Rosy-Finches inhabit montane grassland, alpine and subalpine areas in California. During the winter months, these birds can also be found in coniferous forests, meadows and even in gardens.

In terms of behavior, Gray-crowned Rosy-Finches are fairly social birds who travel in small flocks and are usually heard twittering as they fly. They are also known to form loose colonies during the nesting season, where several pairs will nest close together.

Gray-crowned Rosy-Finches can be found throughout California and provide an interesting addition to any birdwatching experience! With their distinctive grey crowns, pinkish flanks and distinctive twittering they are a truly beautiful species to observe.

Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch range map

What do California finches look like?

California finches are small, colorful birds that vary in size and color depending on the species. The most common type of finch found in California is the House Finch (Haemorhous mexicanus). They have a red or brown head, neck, wings and tail with white spots across their back.

Their underparts are usually a pale yellow-brown color and they have streaked, brown bills. Other species of finches found in California include the Pine Siskin (Spinus pinus), Cassin’s Finch (Haemorhous cassinii) and Purple Finch (Carpodacus purpureus).

Are finches common in California?

The answer to this question is no. Finches are not a common species in California, though there are some that can be found in the state’s coastal areas. The most widespread finch species in California is the House Finch, although other species such as Cassin’s Finch and Purple Finch can also be seen.

These birds tend to frequent wooded areas or scrub thickets near the coast, as well as gardens and other urban locations. In addition, some finches from other parts of the country may be seen in California during migration periods. While they are not common, finches can still be observed throughout California if you take the time to look for them.

Are there House Finches in California?

Yes, there are House Finches (Carpodacus mexicanus) in California. This species of finch is found throughout much of the western US, including California. They prefer to nest in woody vegetation near human habitation and can be seen visiting gardens, bird feeders, and other open areas where food sources such as seeds are available. These birds have adapted well to urban and suburban areas, having become one of the most commonly seen bird species in many parts of California.

They have also been known to hybridize with other finches such as Purple Finches (Carpodacus purpureus) and Cassin’s Finches (Carpodacus cassinii). House Finches are colorful birds, with males having a reddish-brown head and upper breast, while females typically have a brown head and back.

How can you tell a finch from a sparrow?

The simplest way to tell a finch from a sparrow is by their size. Finches are typically smaller than sparrows, with most species measuring between 4 and 6 inches in length. Sparrows, on the other hand, can range from 5 inches to 8 inches in length or even more. Additionally, finches have conical beaks which are usually longer and thinner than the broader, shorter beaks of sparrows.

Finches generally have thicker plumage than sparrows, giving them a stockier appearance. Furthermore, finches tend to have more colorful feathers than sparrows. Female finches may also exhibit color differences from males that aren’t present with sparrows, such as a duller coloration. Looking for these physical differences can help you distinguish a finch from a sparrow.

Additionally, the behavior of each bird can be helpful in telling them apart; finches are often seen hopping along tree branches while sparrows typically prefer to perch on top of those same branches.