What The 18 Finches Of Colorado Look Like (And How To Spot Them)

What The 18 Finches Of Colorado Look Like New

Colorado, with its varied landscapes and rich biodiversity, is home to an impressive array of finches – small songbirds that are part of the Fringillidae family.

These charming creatures are renowned for their vibrant plumage, conical bills, and melodious songs that can often be heard echoing through the state’s forests, grasslands, and mountains.

Finches belong to the passerine group of birds, known for their seed-eating habits and generally small to moderately large sizes.

A distinguishing feature of these birds is their strong, usually conical beak which, in some species, is strikingly large. All finches possess twelve tail feathers and nine primary flight feathers.

Their flight pattern is unique, characterized by a bouncing rhythm with alternating bouts of flapping and gliding on closed wings. Moreover, most finch species are excellent singers, filling their surroundings with their delightful melodies.

In this article, we aim to familiarize you with the 18 species of finches that inhabit Colorado. We will delve into the details of their appearance, behavior, and habitat, providing you with valuable tips to identify them during your birdwatching adventures.

The 18 Finches Of Colorado

1. American Goldfinch

American Goldfinch

As a birdwatching enthusiast, one of the most delightful experiences in Colorado is spotting the American Goldfinch. This small, vibrant bird, known scientifically as Spinus tristis, is a favorite among birders for its striking appearance and melodious song.

  • Species: Spinus tristis
  • Body Length: 4.3″ –5.1″
  • Wingspan: 7.5″ – 8.7″
  • Weight: 0.39 – 0.71 oz

The American Goldfinch is a year-round resident in Colorado, making it a common sight in various habitats across the state. These birds thrive in open and semi-open areas, including weedy fields, floodplains, gardens, and orchards. They are particularly attracted to areas with abundant thistle plants, which are a significant part of their diet.

American Goldfinch Range Map:

American Goldfinch Range Map:
Credit: https://www.allaboutbirds.org/

In terms of appearance, the American Goldfinch is easily recognizable. The males, especially during the breeding season, are bright yellow with a striking black cap and black wings with white markings. Females and non-breeding males are more subdued, with olive-yellow upperparts and dull yellow underparts.

The song of the American Goldfinch is a series of musical trills and warbles, often described as cheerful and lively. Their flight call, a sharp “po-ta-to-chip” sound, is a familiar sound in Colorado’s open spaces and is a helpful cue for birdwatchers to locate these birds.

American Goldfinch Call:

Thomas Magarian, XC543348. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/543348.

Attracting American Goldfinches to your backyard in Colorado is relatively simple. These birds are fond of seeds, particularly nyjer and sunflower seeds. Providing a bird feeder filled with these seeds, especially during the winter months, is an excellent way to invite them. Additionally, planting native thistles and milkweed can provide natural food sources and nesting materials for these charming birds.

2. House Finch

House Finch

The House Finch, a common and colorful bird, is a delightful sight in many Colorado landscapes. Originally from the western United States and Mexico, this species has spread across North America, thriving in both urban and rural settings.

  • Species: Haemorhous mexicanus
  • Body Length: 5″ – 6″
  • Wingspan: 8″ – 10″
  • Weight: 0.67 – 0.77 oz

House Finches are adaptable birds, often found in human-altered habitats like city parks, backyards, farms, and forest edges. In Colorado, they are a familiar presence, easily spotted due to their social nature and preference for congregating in noisy groups.

House Finch Range Map:

House Finch Range Map:
Credit: https://www.allaboutbirds.org/

Males are particularly striking with their bright red heads and breasts, which can vary in hue from orange to yellow depending on their diet. Females are more subdued, with streaked brown plumage. Both sexes share a swift, bounding flight and a cheerful song that is a mix of warbles and chirps.

Their song, a long, twittering string of notes, is often heard in urban neighborhoods and is a delightful soundtrack to a Colorado morning. The House Finch’s call is a sharp “cheep,” a sound that is familiar to many residents.

House Finch Call:

Thomas Magarian, XC531574. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/531574.

It’s easy to attract House Finches to your Colorado backyard. They have a preference for small, black oil sunflower seeds. By filling your feeders with these seeds, you can create a welcoming environment for these delightful birds. Another way to attract them, especially in the hot summer months, is to provide a water source like a birdbath.

3. Pine Siskin

Pine Siskin

The Pine Siskin, a small and energetic bird, is a fascinating species for birdwatchers in Colorado. Known scientifically as Spinus pinus, these birds are recognized for their nomadic behavior, often appearing in large numbers one year and being absent the next.

  • Species: Spinus pinus
  • Body Length: 4.3″ – 5.5″
  • Wingspan: 7.1″ – 8.7″
  • Weight: approx. 0.45 oz

Pine Siskins are adaptable and can be found in a variety of habitats, including evergreen or mixed forests, weedy fields, and suburban areas. In Colorado, they are often seen in areas with abundant conifer trees. These birds are particularly adept at clinging to branch tips and are often spotted feeding upside down.

Pine Siskin Range Map:

Pine Siskin Range Map:
Credit: https://www.allaboutbirds.org/

The appearance of Pine Siskins is characterized by their brown-streaked bodies. They have sharp, pointed bills and short, notched tails. A distinctive feature is the yellow patches on their wings and tails, which flash brightly during flight.

Pine Siskins have a unique sound, described as a harsh “watch-winding” call amidst their constant flock twitters. This sound is a key identifier for birdwatchers and can often be heard before the birds are seen.

Pine Siskin Call:

Yoann Blanchon, XC826906. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/826906.

To attract Pine Siskins to your backyard, provide thistle or nyjer feeders along with small seeds like millet or hulled sunflower seeds. They are also attracted to suet and enjoy feeding on plants or weeds with hardy seed heads, such as dandelions.

4. Evening Grosbeak

Evening Grosbeak

The Evening Grosbeak, a striking bird species, is a delightful sight for birdwatchers in Colorado. With its vibrant plumage and melodious calls, this bird adds a splash of color and song to the natural landscapes of the region.

  • Species: Evening Grosbeak
  • Body Length: 6.3″ – 8.7″
  • Wingspan: 12″ – 14″
  • Weight: approx. 1.9 oz

The Evening Grosbeak is primarily found in the coniferous and mixed forests of North America, making Colorado’s diverse woodland habitats an ideal spot for these birds. They are particularly noticeable during the winter months when they venture closer to human settlements in search of food.

Evening Grosbeak Range Map:

Evening Grosbeak Range Map:
Credit: https://www.allaboutbirds.org/

Visually, the male Evening Grosbeak is unmistakable with its bright yellow body, black wings adorned with white spots, and a large pale bill. Females and young birds are more subdued in color, featuring grayish-brown tones with white and black wings. The bird’s bill, large and conical, is a distinctive feature, useful for cracking seeds.

The call of the Evening Grosbeak is a clear, melodious “clink,” similar to the sound of a small bell. This call is often heard during their flight and is a delightful signal for birdwatchers to look up and spot these beautiful creatures.

Evening Grosbeak Call:

Aidan Place, XC567736. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/567736.

Transforming your Colorado backyard into a haven for Evening Grosbeaks can bring immense joy and satisfaction. These stunning birds have a particular fondness for sunflower seeds, so stocking your feeders with these delectable delights is bound to attract them. Remember to provide a refreshing water source and cultivate a habitat brimming with a diverse array of trees and shrubs to make them feel truly at ease in their new home.

5. Red Crossbill

Red Crossbill

The Red Crossbill, a captivating and exceptional bird, captures the attention of birdwatchers throughout Colorado. With its distinct beak, this species provides a truly remarkable sight in its natural habitat.

  • Species: Loxia curvirostra
  • Body Length: 5.9″ – 6.7″
  • Wingspan: 10.6″ – 11.8″
  • Weight: approx. 1.34 oz

Red Crossbills are primarily found in coniferous forests, making Colorado’s pine, spruce, and fir forests ideal habitats for these birds. They are often seen in flocks, foraging for seeds in the cones of these trees. The bird’s unique beak, with its crossed tips, is perfectly adapted for extracting seeds from cones, a skill that is fascinating to observe.

Red Crossbill Range Map:

Red Crossbill Range Map:
Credit: https://www.allaboutbirds.org/

Visually, the male Red Crossbill is characterized by its bright red or orange plumage, while females and young birds are more olive-yellow or gray. This coloration helps them blend into their forest habitats, yet the males can be quite striking when spotted.

The call of the Red Crossbill is a distinctive “kip-kip” sound, and their song is a series of trills and warbles. Listening to these sounds can be a key strategy in locating these birds during birdwatching expeditions.

Red Crossbill Call:

Lars Edenius, XC837909. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/837909.

Attracting Red Crossbills to your backyard in Colorado involves creating an environment similar to their natural habitat. Planting coniferous trees and providing a source of water can make your garden more inviting. Additionally, offering a mix of seeds, especially those from coniferous trees, in your feeders can attract these unique birds.

6. Blue Grosbeak

The Blue Grosbeak is known for its striking blue plumage and melodious song, and is a gem in the world of birdwatching and can be spotted in Colorado

  • Species: Passerina caerulea
  • Body Length: 5.5″ – 7.5″
  • Wingspan: 10.2″ – 11.4″
  • Weight: approx. 0.98 oz

In Colorado, the Blue Grosbeak is typically found in habitats such as brushy fields, woodland edges, and areas near streams or rivers. These birds prefer environments where they can find a mix of dense shrubbery and open spaces for foraging.

Blue Grosbeak Range Map:

Blue Grosbeak Range Map:
Credit: https://www.allaboutbirds.org/

The male Blue Grosbeak is particularly striking with its deep blue plumage and chestnut wing bars. Females and juveniles are mostly brown with a hint of blue on the wings and tail. This coloration allows them to blend seamlessly into their natural surroundings, making them a bit of a challenge to spot.

The song of the Blue Grosbeak is a rich, melodious warble, interspersed with sharp “chink” calls. Listening to their distinctive song is often the best way to locate these birds during birdwatching trips.

Blue Grosbeak Call:

Mario Reyes Jr, XC806496. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/806496.

Attracting Blue Grosbeaks to your backyard in Colorado involves creating a habitat that mimics their natural environment. Planting native shrubs and providing a mix of seed feeders can make your garden appealing to these birds. Additionally, offering a water source like a birdbath can also attract them to your yard.

7. Black-Headed Grosbeak

Black-headed Grosbeak

The Black-headed Grosbeak is a vibrant and melodious bird, a favorite among birdwatchers in Colorado. This species is known for its striking appearance and enchanting song, making it a delightful discovery for enthusiasts.

  • Species: Pheucticus melanocephalus
  • Body Length: 7.1″ – 8.7″
  • Wingspan: 11.4″ – 13″
  • Weight: approx. 1.48 oz

Black-headed Grosbeaks are commonly found in deciduous and mixed woodlands, particularly in areas with rich undergrowth. They are also seen in suburban gardens and parks, making them relatively accessible to birdwatchers.

Black-headed Grosbeak Range Map:

Black-headed Grosbeak Range Map:
Credit: https://www.allaboutbirds.org/

The male Black-headed Grosbeak is easily identifiable by its black head, bright orange breast, and striking white patches on its wings. Females and juveniles are more subdued in color, with brown and white streaks, but they share the same robust body shape and thick bill.

The song of the Black-headed Grosbeak is a rich and melodious warble, often compared to that of a robin but more fluent and varied. Their calls are a distinctive “eek” sound, which can be a helpful indicator when trying to spot these birds.

Black-headed Grosbeak Call:

Manuel Grosselet, XC813981. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/813981.

Attracting Black-headed Grosbeaks to your backyard in Colorado can be achieved by providing a mix of seeds and fruits. They are particularly fond of sunflower seeds, berries, and insects. Providing a bird bath or a water feature can also be an effective way to attract these birds, as they enjoy bathing and drinking in shallow waters.

8. Common Redpoll

Common Redpoll

The Common Redpoll, a small and lively bird, can be found in Colorado, particularly during the colder months. This resilient finch is known for its ability to thrive in the diverse climates of Colorado.

  • Species: Acanthis flammea
  • Body Length: 4.7″ – 5.5″
  • Wingspan: 7.9″ – 9.8″
  • Weight: 0.42 – 0.56 oz

Common Redpolls are often found in open subarctic coniferous forests, but during winter, they migrate southward and can be spotted in Colorado. They are commonly seen in weedy fields, edges of woods, and areas with thistle or birch trees.

Common Redpoll Range Map:

Common Redpoll Range Map:
Credit: https://www.allaboutbirds.org/

Visually, the Common Redpoll is notable for its small size and streaked appearance. Males have a striking red cap and a pink blush on the breast, while females are more subtly colored with gray-brown plumage and heavy streaks. Their small, conical beaks are perfectly adapted for seed-eating.

The song of the Common Redpoll is a pleasant mix of trills and twitters, and their call is a sharp “chit-chit-chit.” These vocalizations are a helpful cue for birdwatchers trying to locate these active little birds in the wild.

Common Redpoll Call:

TaQini 樂行, XC840540. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/840540.

Attracting Common Redpolls to your backyard in Colorado can be achieved by providing their favorite foods. They are particularly fond of small seeds such as nyjer (thistle) and can often be seen hanging from thistle feeders. Providing a water source and planting birch or alder trees can also create a more inviting environment for these birds.

9. White Winged Crossbill

The White-winged Crossbill is known for its distinctive crossed bill and nomadic lifestyle, making it a captivating subject for bird enthusiasts in Colorado.

  • Species: Loxia leucoptera
  • Body Length: 5.9″ – 6.7″
  • Wingspan: 10.6″ – 11.8″
  • Weight: approx. 1.1 oz

White-winged Crossbills are primarily found in coniferous forests, where they feed on the seeds of spruce and tamarack trees. In Colorado, they are often seen in areas with abundant coniferous trees, especially during irruption years when they move southward in search of food.

White-winged Crossbill Range Map:

White-winged Crossbill Range Map:
Credit: https://www.allaboutbirds.org/

Visually, the male White-winged Crossbill is striking with its bright red or pinkish body and two distinctive white wing bars. Females are more subdued, with yellowish-green plumage and the same white wing bars. The bird’s most notable feature is its crossed bill, an adaptation that allows it to extract seeds from conifer cones with remarkable efficiency.

The call of the White-winged Crossbill is a series of sharp “kip-kip” sounds, and their song consists of a warbling melody that can vary greatly. These vocalizations are a key indicator for birdwatchers trying to locate these birds.

White-winged Crossbill Call:

Lars Edenius, XC530517. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/530517.

Attracting White-winged Crossbills to your backyard in Colorado can be challenging due to their nomadic nature and specialized diet. However, if you live in an area with coniferous trees, you might be able to attract them during irruption years. Providing a source of water and ensuring a natural habitat with coniferous trees can increase your chances of seeing these unique birds.

10. Pine Grosbeak

Pine Grosbeak

The Pine Grosbeak is a large, robust finch that graces the forests of Colorado with its presence. Known for its gentle demeanor and striking appearance, it’s a sought-after sight for birdwatchers in the region.

  • Species: Pinicola enucleator
  • Body Length: 7.9″ – 9.8″
  • Wingspan: 13″ – 14″
  • Weight: 1.98 oz

Pine Grosbeaks are typically found in coniferous forests, often in the higher elevations of Colorado. They prefer areas with a rich supply of seeds, such as those from pine, spruce, and fir trees. During the winter, they may descend to lower elevations and visit bird feeders.

Pine Grosbeak Range Map:

Pine Grosbeak Range Map:
Credit: https://www.allaboutbirds.org/

Visually, male Pine Grosbeaks are notable for their rosy-red plumage, which contrasts beautifully with their gray wings and back. Females and juveniles are more subdued, with grayish-brown tones and hints of yellow or red. Their large size and chunky build make them easy to identify.

The song of the Pine Grosbeak is a series of melodious whistles and trills, reminiscent of a robin’s song but softer and more fluid. Their call is a short, sharp “chup.”

Pine Grosbeak Call:

Lars Edenius, XC837777. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/837777.

Attracting Pine Grosbeaks to your backyard in Colorado involves providing a source of their favorite foods. They are particularly fond of black oil sunflower seeds and will also eat fruit and berries. A bird feeder stocked with these foods, especially in winter, can be a good way to attract them.

11. Lesser Goldfinch

Lesser Goldfinch

The Lesser Goldfinch, a vibrant and animated bird, brings a burst of color to the picturesque Colorado landscape.

  • Species: Spinus psaltria
  • Body Length: 3.5″ – 4.3″
  • Wingspan: 5.9″ – 7.9″
  • Weight: 0.28 – 0.42 oz

Lesser Goldfinches are often found in open woodlands, gardens, and shrubby areas in Colorado. They are adaptable birds that can thrive in a variety of habitats, including urban and suburban areas.

Lesser Goldfinch Range Map:

Lesser Goldfinch Range Map:
Credit: https://www.allaboutbirds.org/

Males are striking with their bright yellow underparts and black or greenish-black upperparts. Females and juveniles are more muted, with olive or grayish upperparts and dull yellow underparts. Their small size and vibrant colors make them a delightful sight at feeders and in gardens.

The song of the Lesser Goldfinch is a sweet, high-pitched series of twitters and warbles, and their call is a sharp “tsee-tsi-tsi-tsit,” often heard in flight.

Lesser Goldfinch Call:

Jerome Fischer, XC567316. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/567316.

Attracting Lesser Goldfinches to your backyard in Colorado can be done by providing thistle (nyjer) feeders, which are a favorite of these birds. Planting native flowers and shrubs that produce seeds, such as sunflowers and coneflowers, can also attract them.

12. Gray-Crowned Rosy Finch

The Gray-crowned Rosy Finch is a charming and somewhat elusive bird, making it a prized sighting for birdwatchers in Colorado. This species is known for its hardiness and ability to thrive in harsh mountainous environments.

  • Species: Leucosticte tephrocotis
  • Body Length: 5.5″ – 6.3″
  • Wingspan: approx. 13″
  • Weight: 0.78 – 0.92 oz

In Colorado, the Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch is typically found in alpine and subalpine zones, often above the tree line. They are particularly associated with rocky areas, cliffs, and tundra landscapes. During harsh winter conditions, they may descend to lower elevations.

Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch Range Map:

Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch Range Map:
Credit: https://www.allaboutbirds.org/

Visually, this bird is striking with its gray head (crown), contrasting with a brown back and a primarily pinkish underbelly and wings. The combination of these colors makes it a beautiful sight against the snowy mountainous backdrop.

The song of the Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch is a series of soft, warbling notes, and their call is a sharp “chew.” These sounds can be helpful in locating them, especially during the breeding season when males are more vocal.

Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch Call:

Thomas Magarian, XC392243. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/392243.

Attracting Gray-crowned Rosy Finches to your backyard in Colorado can be challenging due to their preference for high-altitude habitats. However, during winter, they may visit feeders in lower areas. Offering seeds such as black oil sunflower seeds can attract them, as well as providing a water source.

13. Black Rosy Finch

The Black Rosy Finch, with its striking appearance and elusive nature, is a fascinating bird for enthusiasts in Colorado. This species is particularly notable for its adaptation to high-altitude environments, making it a unique subject for birdwatching.

  • Species: Leucosticte atrata
  • Body Length: 5.5″ – 6.3″
  • Wingspan: approx. 13″
  • Weight: approx. 0.85 oz

In Colorado, the Black Rosy Finch is typically found in alpine and subalpine zones, often above the tree line. They are closely associated with rugged mountainous areas, particularly those with rocky outcrops and cliffs. During winter, they may descend to lower elevations, providing an opportunity for birdwatchers to spot them.

Black Rosy Finch Range Map:

Black Rosy Finch Range Map:
Credit: https://www.allaboutbirds.org/

The Black Rosy Finch is easily identifiable by its predominantly black plumage, which shows a beautiful rosy tint on the belly and wings. This coloration makes it stand out against the snowy landscapes where it is often found.

The song of the Black Rosy Finch is a series of melodic chirps and warbles, while its call is a softer “chew” sound. These vocalizations can be helpful in locating these birds, especially during the breeding season when males are more vocal.

Black Rosy Finch Call:

Andrew Spencer, XC143904. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/143904.

Attracting Black Rosy Finches to your backyard in Colorado can be challenging due to their preference for high-altitude habitats. However, during winter, they may visit feeders in lower areas. Providing seeds such as black oil sunflower seeds and ensuring a natural habitat with rocky features can increase your chances of attracting these unique birds.

14. Brown-Capped Rosy Finch

The Brown-capped Rosy Finch is a delightful bird that adds a touch of wilderness to the mountainous landscapes of Colorado. This species is particularly cherished by birdwatchers for its unique coloration and high-altitude lifestyle.

  • Species: Leucosticte australis
  • Body Length: 5.5″ – 6.3″
  • Wingspan: approx. 13″
  • Weight: approx. 0.95 oz

The Brown-capped Rosy Finch is typically found in alpine and subalpine zones, often above the tree line. They are closely associated with rugged mountainous areas, particularly those with rocky outcrops and cliffs. During winter, they may descend to lower elevations, providing an opportunity for birdwatchers to spot them.

Brown-capped Rosy Finch Range Map:

Brown-capped Rosy Finch Range Map:
Credit: https://www.allaboutbirds.org/

This bird is easily identifiable by its brown cap, which contrasts with its dark body. The bird’s underparts and wings show a beautiful rosy tint, making it a striking sight against the snowy landscapes where it is often found.

The song of the Brown-capped Rosy Finch is a series of melodic chirps and warbles, while its call is a softer “chew” sound. These vocalizations can be helpful in locating these birds, especially during the breeding season when males are more vocal.

Brown-capped Rosy Finch Call:

Andrew Spencer, XC87646. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/87646.

Attracting Brown-capped Rosy Finches to your backyard in Colorado can be challenging due to their preference for high-altitude habitats. However, during winter, they may visit feeders in lower areas. Providing seeds such as black oil sunflower seeds and ensuring a natural habitat with rocky features can increase your chances of attracting these unique birds.

15. Cassin’s Finch

The Cassin’s Finch, with its vibrant plumage and melodious tunes, brings a delightful charm to the forests and woodlands of Colorado. This avian species is highly regarded among birdwatchers for its captivating beauty and enchanting melodies.

  • Species: Haemorhous cassinii
  • Body Length: 5.9″ – 6.3″
  • Wingspan: 9.8″ – 11.8″
  • Weight: 0.8 – 1.2 oz

Cassin’s Finches are typically found in coniferous and mixed forests, often at higher elevations in Colorado. They are also seen in wooded suburban areas, making them accessible to many birdwatchers.

Visually, the male Cassin’s Finch is notable for its bright red crown and throat, with streaked brown back and wings. Females are more subdued, with brown-streaked plumage and no red coloring. Their large, conical beak is a distinctive feature, adapted for seed-eating.

Cassin’s Finch Range Map:

Cassin's Finch Range Map:
Credit: https://www.allaboutbirds.org/

The song of the Cassin’s Finch is a sweet, warbling melody, often described as cheerful and complex. Their call is a sharp “cheep,” which can be heard throughout their habitat.

Cassin’s Finch Call:

Richard E. Webster, XC621695. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/621695.

Attracting Cassin’s Finches to your backyard in Colorado involves providing a source of their favorite foods. They are particularly fond of black oil sunflower seeds and can often be seen at bird feeders stocked with these seeds. Planting native trees and shrubs that produce berries can also attract these birds.

16. Purple Finch

Purple finch

The Purple finch is a charismatic avian species that brings a splash of color to Colorado’s landscape. This medium-sized finch, with its raspberry-red males and streaky, brown females, is a birdwatcher’s delight, and spotting one amidst Colorado’s natural habitats is a truly delightful experience.

The Purple Finch, a delightful bird to spot in Colorado, is a true gem for birdwatching enthusiasts.

  • Species: Haemorhous purpureus
  • Body Length: 4.7″ – 5.9″
  • Wingspan: 8.7″ – 10.2″
  • Weight: 0.88 oz

The Purple Finch is not actually purple; the males are more of an old-rose color, making them a spectacular sight. Females and young males are brown and white, with females having a distinct white mark above each eye and more crisply patterned.

This species is common in the North and East of the U.S. and along the Pacific seaboard, but it is rarer in the Rocky Mountains region, making Colorado sightings special.

Purple Finch Range Map:

Purple Finch Range Map:
Credit: https://www.allaboutbirds.org/

In Colorado, these birds are found more commonly in the western and central areas. They frequent a variety of wooded and semi-open areas, including forests, suburbs, swamps, and overgrown fields. During migration and winter, they may be more visible as they move to different areas in search of food.

The male Purple Finch is notable for its raspberry-colored plumage, which covers the head, breast, and back. The female is more subdued with a brown-streaked appearance.

Their song is a rich, melodious warble, similar to that of a House Finch but more rapid and less slurred. This makes them a joy to listen to, especially in the quiet of the morning.

Purple Finch Call:

Valerie Heemstra, XC742993. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/742993.

To attract Purple Finches to your backyard in Colorado, use seed feeders filled with sunflower seeds. They are more likely to visit gardens in winter when food is scarce. Providing a mix of seed types and a water source can also increase your chances of seeing these beautiful birds.

17. Brambling

Brambling

The Brambling, a delightful avian visitor, graces Colorado with its presence, especially during migration seasons.

  • Species: Fringilla montifringilla
  • Body Length: 5.5″ – 6.3″
  • Wingspan: 9.8″ – 10.2″
  • Weight: 0.81 oz

The Brambling is a striking bird. Males in summer have a black head, back, and tail, with a bright orange breast and shoulders. In winter, their plumage is more subdued, with a mottled brown head and back. Females and young birds are generally more brownish but retain the distinctive orange breast and white belly.

In Colorado, Bramblings are often found in wooded areas, particularly near streams and rivers. They prefer deciduous forests but can also be spotted in mixed woodlands during migration.

Brambling Range Map:

The Brambling’s call is a sharp “chup”, and its song is a pleasant warble, similar to that of a finch but more melodious. Listening for these sounds can be a key to spotting them.

Brambling Call:

Gil Lissens, XC856087. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/856087.

To attract Bramblings, provide a mix of seeds, especially during the colder months. They are fond of sunflower seeds and millet. Additionally, having a water source like a birdbath can be inviting for these birds.

18. Lawrence’s Goldfinch

Lawrence’s Goldfinch, a small and elusive bird, offers a delightful challenge for birdwatchers in Colorado.

  • Species: Spinus lawrencei
  • Body Length: 4.3″ – 4.7″
  • Wingspan: 7.9″ – 8.7″
  • Weight: approx. 0.4 oz

The male Lawrence’s Goldfinch is distinguished by its black forehead, yellow chest, and gray back, while the female is more subdued with grayish-brown plumage and less pronounced yellow markings.

Both sexes exhibit bright yellow underwings and a white rump in flight.

In Colorado, these birds are typically found in open woodlands, chaparral, and occasionally suburban areas. They prefer environments with a mix of trees and shrubs, especially during the breeding season.

Lawrence’s Goldfinch Range Map:

Lawrence's Goldfinch Range Map:
Credit: https://www.allaboutbirds.org/

Their song is a series of sweet, warbling notes, and their call is a sharp “pit-pit.” Listening for these distinctive sounds can aid in locating them.

Lawrence’s Goldfinch Call:

Paul Marvin, XC750894. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/750894.

To attract Lawrence’s Goldfinch to your backyard, provide thistle and sunflower seeds in feeders. They are also attracted to water sources like birdbaths.

Where To Spot Finches In Colorado

The diverse landscapes of Colorado, from the towering Rocky Mountains to the sprawling Pawnee National Grassland, present birdwatchers with a unique opportunity to observe a variety of finch species in their natural habitats. These environments, each with its distinctive flora and fauna, serve as perfect sanctuaries for these colorful birds.

The Rocky Mountain National Park, with its varied habitats ranging from alpine tundra to montane forests, is a prime location for finch spotting. Here, the coniferous forests are alive with the vibrant colors and melodic chirps of the Pine Grosbeaks and Red Crossbills. These robust finches, known for their thick, cross-tipped bills, can often be found feasting on pine seeds and cones.

Venture further into the Pawnee National Grassland, and you’ll find another haven for finches. This expansive prairie and grassland area is home to seed-eating birds such as the American Goldfinch and Lesser Goldfinch. These small, bright yellow birds, adorned with black wings and tails, often gather in large groups, delighting observers as they feed on thistle, sunflower, and other seeds.

However, the opportunities to observe finches in Colorado extend beyond these locations. Barr Lake State Park, located near Denver, the South Platte River Valley, and Shadow Mountain Reservoir near Granby are also reliable places to see these birds. Each of these locations offers its unique ecosystem, attracting different species of finches and providing birdwatchers with a diverse birding experience.

Attracting Finches To Your Backyard

Attracting finches to your backyard in Colorado is relatively easy. Almost all finch species in Colorado are known to visit bird feeders, increasing your chances of welcoming multiple species into your yard.

The simplest method to attract these delightful avians is through bird feeders filled with fresh black seeds, such as sunflower seeds and Nyjer seeds. These seeds are high in oil content and are easy for the finches to pick with their small beaks. Consider using special thistle seed socks for feeding, as finches can hang from them effortlessly and extract the seeds nestled between the fibers.

In addition to food, water is an essential environmental factor for attracting finches. Providing a water source that doesn’t freeze, like a bird bath, can make your backyard more appealing to these birds.

To keep the finches returning to your backyard, consider diversifying the types of food offered and ensuring an attractive habitat with shelter.

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