Georgia’s state bird is the brown thrasher. This bird is renowned for its impressive repertoire of songs (over 1,100 in total), as well as for being rather territorial. It is also renowned for its habit of raking the forest floor with its beak. Also known as the fox-colored thrush, it can be found all year long throughout Georgia and can be recognized by its reddish-brown upper surface, a long tail, long legs, and tear-dropped markings against a pale under surface.
Florida’s northern neighbor is also home to 427 bird species. Eight of these are finches and we’ve covered them here to provide you with their key features and the ability to describe them too.
- Scientific Name: Hesperiphona vespertina
- Length: 6 – 9 inches
- Weight: 1.3 – 3.0 ounces
- Wingspan: 12 – 14 inches
In the wild, where size often counts, it’s highly unlikely that other finches would take on this large robust species. They’re known for their habit of swooping down on platform feeders in winter in the company of their relatives.
In addition to their size, there are also their robust beaks to consider, which they are not averse to wielding against adversaries on occasion. Most of the time, however, evening grosbeaks tend to focus on tackling their favorite foods with their powerful beaks.
They are especially fond of box elder seeds, which are produced throughout winter by their parent trees. Evening grosbeaks also enjoy the seeds of pine and maple trees. Additionally, they indulge in insects and larvae including spruce budworms.
Males of the species have a dark-colored head with a bold yellow eyebrow, brown shoulders, yellow-brown underparts and rump, and a short square tail. Their wings are patterned with wedge-like patches in white, with thick black edges. Their bills are a pale yellow.
Females, on the other hand, are mostly gray with a hint of olive color at the neck and dark wings with large white or gray patches. Their large bills are a pale gray.
Evening grosbeaks’ breeding range includes the Rocky Mountain region to eastern Canada, where they nest in mixed conifer and spruce forests. They prefer to winter in suburban areas or deciduous or coniferous woodlands.
This species may fly as far south as Georgia’s southern border in winter. However, they are more commonly found in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming. They can also be found in the western United States.
- Scientific Name: Haemorhous mexicanus
- Length: 5 – 6 inches
- Weight: 0.6 – 0.9 ounces
- Wingspan: 8 – 10 inches
Members of this adaptable, hardy species are often mistaken for purple and Cassin’s finches. However, they can be distinguished from them due to the streaking in female house finches which is not sharply defined, as well as their somewhat plainer faces. Male house finches, on the other hand, have streaked underparts.
Like those rose finches, the faces and chests of male house finches are covered in a flush of red — strawberry red in this case.
Females are covered in a soft, muted brown with blurred streaks at their chests and undersurfaces.
This species, which was first recorded in New York in the 1940s, is at home in chaparral, desert grasslands, and savannas. It is also comfortable in the centers of large cities and can be found throughout the state of Georgia, all year round.
- Scientific Name: Acanthis flammea
- Length: 4.5 – 5.5 inches
- Weight: 1.12 ounces
- Wingspan: 8 – 9 inches
Common redpolls are generally covered in dark brown streaks at the head, mantle, and upper surface. Their wings are also dark brown with white wing bars while their chest may be pale or also covered in stripes. Both genders sport a short sharp yellow beak and a dark red cap at the crown although males may also have a flush of pink at the chest.
These winter finches prefer the shrubby tundra and low forest, found in Alaska, Quebec, and Labrador, for example.
However, they travel southwards whenever there is a dearth of spruce and birch seeds in northern forests.
They are however rarely found in Georgia since New York, New England, and the Dakotas often form the limits of their southernmost range.
- Scientific Name: Haemorhous purpureus
- Length: 4.7 – 6.3 inches
- Weight: 0.63 – 1.10 ounces
- Wingspan: 10 inches
This rather stocky medium-sized finch looks as though its streaked brown plumage has been unevenly tinted with deep pink dye. The pink is most intense at its head, merging with the brown of its upper surface and spreading to its chest in a colorful flush.
This extra touch of color is absent from the female of the species which is heavily streaked at the wings but lightly streaked at the chest and undersurface.
The purple finch enjoys feeding on the buds, flowers, and seeds of deciduous trees. It also helps itself to insects and larvae where available. It breeds in northern mixed conifer and hardwood forests in the east.
The purple finch winters throughout Georgia. The state forms part of its extensive winter range in the eastern United States.
- Scientific Name: Loxia curvirostra
- Length: 7.9 inches
- Weight: 2 ounces
- Wingspan: 12 inches
Members of this species are a study in adaptability having mastered the art of manipulating seeds with their tongues before swallowing them.
Females are mostly olive and gray with dark wings. Males, on the other hand, also have the same dark-colored wings but are however covered in coppery plumage with varying degrees of gray.
Both genders have the characteristic crossed mandibles that their name is derived from.
They can be found in coniferous, mixed coniferous, deciduous, and mountain forests which extend from Alaska and Canada in the north, to Mexico, in the south.
Red crossbills rarely make the trip south or east to Georgia. However, they may decide to winter there on occasion, although such occurrences are by no means common.
- Scientific Name: Loxia leucoptera
- Length: 5.7 – 6.7 inches
- Weight: 0.9 – 1.40 ounces
- Wingspan: 11 inches
Female white-winged crossbills are olive at the head and chest, with a bit of gray at the neck, flanks, and stomach. They also have dark brown wings with two prominent white wing bars.
Their male counterparts, on the other hand, are raspberry red with a black half-moon at the cheek. They also have dark wings with noticeable white wing bars.
The species is nomadic and can be found in Canada and Alaska’s spruce zone. However, it can also be found as far south as Colorado. This southernmost winter range is located far north of Georgia and the finch rarely visits Florida’s northern neighbor as a result.
- Scientific Name: Spinus pinus
- Length: 4 – 5.5 inches
- Weight: 0.40 – 0.60 ounces
- Wingspan: 7 – 9 inches
An energetic, occasionally belligerent finch, the pine siskin has also mastered the art of disguise thanks to its ability to resemble a small bunch of pine cones.
It is covered in streaks, with those at its upper surface especially dense compared to those at its lower surface.
The pine siskin also has hints of yellow at its outer wing feathers and at the base of its tail.
It is commonly found across North America and prefers open expanses compared to forest habitats.
In addition to being found in urban areas and parks, it can also be found in coniferous and mixed coniferous forests.
Pine siskins visit Georgia in winter since the state is part of their extensive winter range which includes the eastern United States.
- Scientific Name: Spinus tristis
- Length: 5.5 inches
- Weight: 0.4 – 0.7 ounces
- Wingspan: 8 – 9 inches
Members of these species are known for the determination with which they seek out alder, birch, sunflower, or thistle seeds to tuck away.
They tend to be especially colorful during breeding season when the male is a lemon yellow with a dark cap, a white rump, and black wings streaked with white. The beaks of males are a deep yellow, while their feet and legs are pink.
Breeding females look pretty similar to males without their breeding finery. Their heads and chests are a dull yellow while their wings are dark with white wing bars.
Once the breeding season comes to an end, males swap their citrus yellow plumage for a rather subdued olive with a hint of yellow at the throat. Their bill also changes to brown and their undersurfaces to tan.
Females assume a dull brown color with a hint of dull yellow at the neck.
American goldfinches are found all year round in Georgia’s extreme north. However, they spend the winter in the rest of the state
The state of Georgia is home to eight finch species. Some of these passerines are not usually spotted within its borders, i.e., red crossbills and white-winged crossbills. Others like the evening grosbeak on the other hand only visit in winter occasionally.
Others such as purple finches and pine siskins winter there every year.
And yet, its small number of beautiful finches notwithstanding, there are ample opportunities for bird watchers to admire these colorful active granivores thanks to the presence of American goldfinches and house finches which can be found in the state, all year long.