12 Species of Finches in Colorado (with Pictures)

Finches in Colorado

Finches are small to medium-sized birds that look extremely fascinating. In North America, you can find 12 different species of Finches. Surprisingly, Colorado is home to all these 12 species. While some species are common to spot, some are quite rare.

The 12 species of finches that can be found in Colorado are:

  1. House Finch
  2. Purple Finch
  3. American Goldfinch
  4. Lesser Goldfinch
  5. Pine Siskin
  6. Grey-Crowned Finch
  7. Black Rosy-Finch
  8. Brown-Capped Rosy-Finch
  9. Cassin’s Finch
  10. Common Redpoll
  11. Red Crossbill
  12. White-Winged Crossbill


In this article, we will go through all these different species and learn more about them.

House Finches

House Finches

Length – 5.1 – 5.5 in
Weight – 0.6 – 0.9 oz
Wingspan – 7.9 – 9.8 in

House Finches are one of the most common birds that are found year-round in Colorado. They have small bodies and large beaks. The males are rosy red, whereas the females are plain grayish-brown in appearance.

They are pretty much similar to house sparrows in size. House Finches are social birds and can be easily spotted in city parks, farms, forest edges, and even backyards. Their original native habitats are considered to be deserts, grassland, open woods, etc.

They nest in a wide variety of sites like deciduous and coniferous trees, cactus, rock ledges, and even buildings, street lamps, etc. These birds forage on the ground and generally eat seeds, berries, etc. They also feed on some small insects like aphids. They also visit the bird feeders.


Purple Finches

Purple Finches

Length – 4.7 – 6.3 in
Weight – 0.6 – 1.1 oz
Wingspan – 8.7 – 10.2 in

Purple Finches are pretty rare in Colorado and are generally spotted outside of the breeding season. They are beautiful birds that aren’t actually purple in color. The males are red, whereas the females are light brown in color.

They are about the same size as House Finches. They breed in coniferous and mixed forests. However, during winters, they can be found in a variety of habitats like forest edges, shrublands, old fields, and even backyards.

They build nests on tree limbs. They forage in bushes, trees as well as ground vegetation. These birds are primarily seed eaters. They also eat berries and small insects. They often visit bird feeders and love to be fed sunflower seeds, millet, etc.


American Goldfinch

American Goldfinch

Length – 4.2 – 5.2 in
Weight – 0.4 – 0.6 oz
Wingspan – 7.6 – 8.6 in

American Goldfinches are small birds that are generally present in the Northeastern part of Colorado throughout the year.

During winter, they can be seen in other parts as well. These birds undergo molt during the spring and winter seasons. Due to the process of molting, they are found in different colors, depending on the season. They have a distinct, undulating flight.

Their natural habitats are open countries where weedy fields and floodplains are available. They are also found in a wide range of cultivated areas like orchards, roadsides, backyards, etc.

These goldfinches are considered one of the strictest vegetarians in the bird world as they mostly consume grains. Occasionally, it feeds on insects as well. Their diet includes a great range of seeds like thistle, teasel, sunflower, etc. These birds visit feeders, especially during winter. You can easily attract them with Niger seeds.


Lesser Goldfinch

Lesser Goldfinch

Length – 3.5 – 4.3 in
Weight – 0.3 – 0.4 oz
Wingspan – 5.9 – 7.9 in

Lesser Goldfinches are tiny songbirds. They are one of the smallest finches in North America. They are found in Colorado mostly during the breeding season. The males are bright yellow with greenish-brown backs, whereas females are dull yellow with olive backs.

These birds are typically found in habitats like weedy fields, treetops, open woods, etc. They are also found in mountain canyons and desert oases, depending on food availability.

They are also common in suburban regions. They form flocks outside of the breeding season. They are often detected by their distinctive flight calls. These birds make plaintive, kitten-like calls.

These birds are active foragers that forage in trees, shrubs, and weeds. They feed mainly on seeds and grains. Occasionally, they consume insects too, especially during summer. They also visit bird feeders.


Pine Siskin

Pine Siskin

Length – 4.3 – 5.4 in
Weight – 0.4 – 0.6 oz
Wingspan – 7.2 – 8.6 in

Pine siskins are small songbirds that are found in the western half of the state all year long. They are also seen across the rest of the state, mostly during non-breeding season and winter season. These birds are brown in color with yellow edgings on tails and wings.

As their name indicates, they prefer open conifer forests. They live and build nests in colonies. They forage in scrubby thickets and weedy fields and even backyards and gardens. They mainly feed on seeds and buds and occasionally on some insects. During winter, these birds often feed in mixed flocks.

These finches flock to backyard feeders, especially during winter. If you want to attract these birds, make sure you offer them their favorite pine seeds.


Grey-crowned Rosy-Finch

Grey-crowned Rosy-Finch

Length – 5.5 – 8.3 in
Weight – 0.8 – 2.1 oz
Wingspan – 13.0 in

Grey-crowned Rosy-Finches are small songbirds that can be mostly found in the western region of Colorado during the non-breeding season. They are quite common and widespread. These birds have brown bodies with pink highlights in wings and tails.

They are pretty rare to spot and nest in a wide range of habitats like meadows, cliffsides, rocks, ice fields, etc. During winter, they descend to open areas in lower elevations, especially forests and towns.

These birds are highly environment-specific. These finches forage on the ground, generally near snowfields or snowmelt. They feed on seeds and insects. They forage in small flocks during the winter season. They also visit feeders.


Black Rosy-Finch

Black Rosy-Finch

Length – 5.5 – 6.3 in
Weight – 0.8 – 1.1 oz
Wingspan – 13.0 in

Black Rosy-Finches are medium-sized birds that, much like Grey-crowned Rosy-Finches, are found in Colorado during the non-breeding season.

These birds are generally seen in the western and central parts of the state. As the name suggests, the breeding Black Rosy-Finches are black in color with rosy or pink highlights on wings. The non-breeding ones are brown instead of black but have similar pink highlights.

Their breeding habitat is mountain areas, amongst alpine rocks and cliffs. Due to such inaccessible habitat, these birds are one of the least studied birds on the continent.

They spend winter in the open country and can be spotted in mountain meadows, valleys, high deserts, etc. They feed on insects and seeds. During winter, these birds form large flocks, mixing with Grey-crowned Rosy-Finches.


Brown-Capped Rosy-Finch

Brown-Capped Rosy-Finch

Length – 5.5 – 6.3 in
Weight – 0.8 – 1.2 oz
Wingspan – 13.0 in

Brown Capped Finches are medium-sized birds that are generally found in the central part of Colorado. These birds are cinnamon-brown in color with a black forehead and pink highlights on the wing, rump, and belly.

The legs are short and black. They are also one of the least studied species of fiches, and hence, only a little is known about these birds.

They inhabit the mountain peaks in the central Rocky Mountains. They prefer to build nests in cavities on cliffs. They even use the abandoned nests of Cliff Swallows.

They forage on the ground but are also capable of catching insects in flight. Their diet includes both seeds and insects. They feed in small flocks. They can be easily attracted to suitable seeds.


Cassin’s Finch

Cassin’s Finch

Length – 6.3 in
Weight – 0.8 – 1.2 oz
Wingspan – 9.8 – 10.6

Cassin’s Finches are a year-round resident of Colorado but are most commonly found in western and central parts. These are small songbirds. The males have red-colored heads and back, whereas females have light brown upperparts.

They are about the size of House Finches. Cassin’s Finches chooses evergreen or coniferous forest in the mountains up to about 10,000 feet elevation as their breeding habitat. They nest in conifers and move to lower elevations during winter.

These birds forage on trees and sometimes in ground vegetation. They eat tree buds and seeds. They even consume some insects. They often feed in small folks. During winter, when the food is scarce, they visit gardens. Using seed feeders is a great way to attract these birds.


Common Redpoll

Common Redpoll

Length – 4.7 – 5.6 in
Weight – 0.5 – 0.7 oz
Wingspan – 7.6 – 8.6 in

Common Redpolls are small songbirds, about the same size as American Finches. They are brownish-grey with dark streaks and a red patch on the forehead. They are completely covered with feathers to prevent freezing during the cold season. These finches can be found all across Colorado.

They can be found in a great range of northern habitats like willow flats, open conifer forest, weedy fields, etc. Their typical habitat is considered to be a boreal forest. These birds make their nest low down in a bush or tree.

These birds are diurnal in nature, which means that they are active during the day. They forage on seeds, mainly birch and alder, in winter.

They often hang upside-down from branches while eating. They travel in huge flocks of up to hundreds of individuals. During winter, they visit backyard bird feeders as well.


Red Crossbill

Red Crossbill

Length – 7.8 in
Weight – 1.4 – 1.8 oz
Wingspan – 10. 6 – 11.4 in

Red Crossbills are found all across Colorado. They can be spotted year-round in central and eastern parts of Colorado. In the western part, they are only seen outside of the breeding season, i.e., winter. Males are brick-red, whereas females are green or yellow in appearance.

As the name indicates, these birds have crossed mandibles. Their habitat includes coniferous forests in mountains and the boreal forest.

However, when the food source fails, these birds irrupt south and can be seen in forests, towns, and even backyards. They forage in flocks and feed on conifer seeds. They occasionally visit feeders and are fond of sunflower seeds.


White-Winged Crossbill

White-Winged Crossbill

Length – 5.9 – 6.7 in
Weight – 0.8 – 0.9 oz
Wingspan – 10.2 – 11.0 in

White-winged Crossbills are medium-sized finches that have crossed bills, much like Red Crossbills. These birds are found all across Colorado; however, they can be seen year-round only in the northwestern region.

It is only during early winter, outside of the breeding season, that they can be spotted in the rest of the state as well. The males are rose-pink with black tails, whereas females are yellowish.

They are inhabitants of the boreal forest, mostly tamarack and spruce. During irruptions, they can be found in hemlock forests, spruces, weedy fields, and even backyards, visiting the feeders. They eat seeds generally. During summers, they even feed on insects and also take grit from the ground.


Things You Must Know About Finches

Tiny birds – Despite being one of the largest bird families, Finches are one of the smallest birds in the world. In Colorado, Lesser Goldfinches are the smallest birds.

Social Birds – Finches are extremely social birds. They love companionship. That is why you might find them flying and foraging in folks with other finches. They even socialize with birds of other species. They are also social with humans and often visit backyard feeders.

Don’t touch! – Finches don’t like being touched. So even if the finch perch on your finger, know that it doesn’t want you to touch it all day long. If you want your pet finch to be healthy and happy, touch it as little as possible.

Seed lovers – Finches are primarily seed eaters. They eat a variety of seeds, ranging from Sunflower to Nyjer. You can easily attract them to your yard by offering their favorite seeds. You can even set up seed feeders in your yard.

Quiet birds – Although finches chirp a lot, they have tiny voices that aren’t disturbing. Even a flock of finches has a low noise level. That is why it gets extremely difficult to locate them with the help of their voice like other birds. Their chirping is soothing and pleasant.


Wrapping Up

We hope you enjoyed reading this article and learned new things about these different species of finches in Colorado. Do let us what do you love most about finches and which species is your absolute favorite.