Conservation. House Finches are common throughout the U.S., parts of Canada, and Mexico, but their populations appear to have decreased slightly between 1966 and 2019, according to the North American Breeding Bird Survey.
They have a head crest and a black mask, so when viewed from a distance, these birds look like cardinals.
There are several small red birds, that are not cardinals, including: Hepatic Tanager. House Finch. Pine Grosbeak.
Finches have smaller, more delicate bills that are more sharply pointed. Sparrows generally have longer tails that they are more apt to actively flash, wag, or wave. Finches have shorter tails that are generally narrower, and they do not flash their tails as frequently.
Their plant-based diets might suggest peace-loving passivity, but House Finches can be very aggressive, especially at feeders. In fact, they’re so territorial around food and nest sites that they’re one of the only birds known to fight off non-native House Sparrows.
Small brown birds at your feeder are likely to be sparrows or female finches. However, they might be female blackbirds. They might be wrens!
As with house sparrows, they are very adaptable birds and thrive with the kinds of human disturbance that doom many native birds. They do quite well in suburbia, especially with all those bird feeders. Unlike house sparrows, no one seems to mind their presence.
Many exclusion methods exist to keep house finches away. Removing large piles of brush, keeping trees and other foliage neatly trimmed, and sealing any holes in buildings all make properties less suitable to house finch nesting.
The House Finch, however, is invasive in its own right. Originally native to only the western United States and Mexico, it has spread rapidly through the east since a small number of caged birds were released in New York in 1940.
“Red” Fox Sparrows, widely distributed across the boreal forest of northern North America, are rusty above with some pale gray on the head and rufous splotches on the underparts.
Both males and females are a bright, unpatterned reddish-brown above and warm buffy-orange below, with a long white eyebrow stripe, dark bill, and white chin and throat. The Carolina Wren creeps around vegetated areas and scoots up and down tree trunks in search of insects and fruit.
Male and Female Birds
The male red sparrow birds have vivid colors. They have longer, darker red streaks on their heads and the lower part of the body. The female counterparts are usually plain brown.
Small, nondescript brown bird with a short tail, thin bill, and dark barring on wings and tail with a paler throat.
White-breasted Nuthatches are gray-blue on the back, with a frosty white face and underparts. The black or gray cap and neck frame the face and make it look like this bird is wearing a hood. The lower belly and under the tail are often chestnut.
Some brown birds commonly confused with male or female House Sparrows include: American Tree Sparrow, Carolina Wren, Cassin’s Finch, Chipping Sparrow, Cowbird, House Wren, Eurasian Tree Sparrow, Harris’s Sparrow, House Finch, Purple Finch, Rose-breasted Grosbeak (female), Junco, Song Sparrow, White-crowned Sparrow, …
Cardinals exist in red, yellow, white, and golden/brown colors. Many people believe that they have sighted a blue cardinal however, they do not exist. The primary color that cardinals can be found in include red for male cardinals and grey-brown for female cardinals.
All northern cardinal hatchlings are born with pink skin and grayish scaling. No red is evident in either the male or females. As molting begins, however, baby cardinals take on a tan hue that remains well into their juvenile period, when color changes in the male begin to differentiate the two genders.
So, which birds look like cardinals? Cardinal look-alike birds are pyrrhuloxias, phainopeplas, vermilion flycatchers, scarlet tanagers, summer tanagers, and more. Surprisingly, a pyrrhuloxia could be confused with a female northern cardinal, since they’re quite similar.
Red finches are birds that live throughout the United States and down into Mexico. These tiny birds have a beautiful song full of trills, chirps and rolling warbles. The male red finch is notable for the bright red feathers on his head and breast.
Note: Brown-capped Rosy-Finches are the most sedentary rosy-finch. Unlike the Black Rosy-Finch, this species will sometimes nest in abandoned buildings.