FINCH FACTS

Some cool facts about house finches, courtesy of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology:

■ Originally a bird of the western United States and Mexico, a few house finches were released in 1940 on Long Island, New York, after failed attempts to sell them as cage birds (“Hollywood finches”). That handful of house finches bred, and their progeny spread across almost all of the eastern United States and southern Canada within the next 50 years.

■ Scientists estimate there are between 267 million and 1.4 billion house finches.

■ House finches were released on Oahu, Hawaii, sometime before 1870, and by 1901 had become abundant on all the major Hawaiian Islands.

■ House finches feed their nestlings exclusively plant foods, a fairly rare occurrence in the bird world. Many birds that are vegetarians as adults still find animal foods to keep their fast-growing young supplied with protein.

■ The oldest known house finch was 11 years, 7 months old.

 

— Dave Buchanan


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