New Jersey may be well-known for its thriving nightlife and rich food culture, but it also happens to be a fantastic location for bird watchers! You can find 10 finches while you’re out and about.
The appropriately nicknamed Garden State has a rather diverse environment for finches to thrive in. Nearly half the state is covered in rich, dense forests for these little songbirds to forage and nest.
While the finch family is adaptable to a wide variety of locations, they’re still fond of forested areas thanks to the abundance of seeds and berries.
Whether you want to snap some bird photos or enjoy their lively behavior, I’ll help you spot them with ease. My list below will sort these cuties by their plumage, song patterns, and more.
- Species Name: Haemorhous purpureus
- Length: 12 cm to 16 cm
- Weight: 18 grams to 32 grams
- Wingspan: 22 cm to 26 cm
Don’t be fooled by the name! The purple finch isn’t actually purple, but it does still have beautiful plumage you’ll spot instantly.
The male purple finch is as red as a raspberry with light brown wings and a pale belly. His pale conical bill stands out starkly against his pink face.
The female purple finch looks similar to a sparrow but with a few key differences. She has a thick white eyebrow and a heavily flecked stomach.
These finches are a touch more elusive than their cousins since they prefer forested areas. While you’re less likely to see them in your neighborhood, a scenic walk through the woods will increase your chances.
If you’re looking for prime birding spots in New Jersey, check out the High Point State Park and Stokes State Forest. Not only are forests a purple finch hotspot, but you may see a few of the other birds on this list!
Purple finches usually show up in New Jersey during the winter months, particularly when food supplies run low. If you enjoy backyard birding, stock your feeder with a little extra to attract these cuties.
The purple finch’s diverse diet spans berries, seeds, and flower buds. However, they enjoy grasshoppers and caterpillars during the summer months.
You can easily attract these birds to your feeder with black oil sunflower seeds. They prefer seeds during the winter due to their higher fat content, helping them hold strong against the frigid cold.
Purple finches have a classic warble with rising and falling patterns. You’ll sometimes hear repetitive twee-er-twee-er-twee notes.
The purple finch’s migration patterns are sometimes influenced by how low their food supply is. In a way, backyard birders with regularly stocked feeders can completely change where these birds travel!
- Species Name: Haemorhous mexicanus
- Length: 13 cm to 14 cm
- Weight: 16 grams to 27 grams
- Wingspan: 20 cm to 25 cm
It’s common to mix up the house finch and purple finch due to their similar coloration. However, they couldn’t be more different personality-wise!
The male house finch has a vivid red head and throat. Unlike the purple finch’s blushing plumage, the rest of his body is a mottled brown.
The female house finch has a light gray-brown body covered in streaks. Her speckled belly and small, gray bill makes it easy for her to blend into tree bark.
If you have a hard time telling finches and sparrows apart, we’ve got a guide on sparrows in New Jersey to help you out.
The house finch earned its name due to how widespread it is. Not only will they fly around forest edges and fields, but they’ll often show up right in your backyard!
These finches show up in the state year-round and are a common sight in both urban and suburban areas.
House finches’ diverse diet makes it easy for them to adapt just about anywhere. They’ll eat berries, seeds, fruit buds, and plenty of juicy fruit.
If you want them to pay you a visit, stock up on sunflower seeds or thistle. However, they’re rather territorial and may not let other birds eat while they’re around.
Their fierce behavior separates them from the more shy and elusive purple finch.
House finches are an utter delight to listen to. They have a high, sweet song of chatty warbles with the occasional trill.
The house finch is so bold, they’ll build their nest just about anywhere. Sometimes they’ll even roost in a gutter or a shingle in your roof.
- Species Name: Spinus tristis
- Length: 11 cm to 13 cm
- Weight: 11 grams to 20 grams
- Wingspan: 19 cm to 22 cm
New Jersey’s spectacular oak and chestnut forests look even lovelier when crowned with American goldfinches. However, these charming birds are just as content to visit your home.
The male American goldfinch has a lemon-yellow body with black wings and white wing bars. I love the little jet-black cap on their brow, a feature that makes them look rather stylish.
The female American goldfinch is dazzling in her own right. She has similar coloration to the male but with olive-yellow feathers and no black cap.
What luck! One of the most beloved finches is easy to find year-round in New Jersey, whether you live in a forested area or a suburban neighborhood.
American goldfinches very rarely eat insects, preferring to live on flower buds, seeds, and weed seeds. That said, they’ll still branch out and try a little maple sap during the spring.
You’ll love the sight of these darling birds at your feeder. Help them feel at home with a hearty helping of thistle and sunflower seeds.
Keep in mind these birds aren’t the most assertive, though. If you have any house finches nearby, they’ll scare the American goldfinches away!
These birds are some of the most melodious in the finch family. They’ll warble, twitter, and cheep almost without pause.
Try not to confuse the males and females together! Male American goldfinches only have their bright yellow plumage during breeding season, but become olive yellow the rest of the year.
The key is to look at the head – females still don’t have the jet-black cap.
- Species Name: Hesperiphona vespertina
- Length: 16 cm to 22 cm
- Weight: 38 grams to 68 grams
- Wingspan: 30 cm to 36 cm
A rarer sight in New Jersey, the evening grosbeak is worth keeping an eye out for. Their vibrant plumage and larger size make them a spectacle of a bird.
The male evening grosbeak has a bold yellow body with a darker head, dark wings, and patches of white. Their thick yellow eyebrow and large bill give them a fierce expression.
The female evening grosbeak has a light yellow-gray body with speckled black and white wings. If you have a sharp eye (or a pair of binoculars), you’ll see a yellow ring around her neck.
These finches are more scarce in New Jersey and usually show up during non-breeding season. When they do crop up, they prefer more heavily forested areas – jot down a note for your next nature walk!
Since they also enjoy mountainous areas, you may glimpse them in the Allamuchy Mountain State Park.
If you want to increase your chances of seeing one, spruce up your backyard feeder with my tips in the next section.
Evening grosbeaks enjoy seeds, insects, and various fruits. They’re also keen on visiting backyard bird feeders during the winter, so stock up on sunflower seeds!
I highly recommend using a platform feeder, too. These finches are rather heavy and won’t be able to get far with a tube feeder.
The evening grosbeak’s song isn’t quite as loud as its plumage. If you listen closely, you may hear sparse chirps or soft trills.
These birds prefer to forage in flocks. If you’re patient and keep your feeder stocked, you’ll likely see several at a time!
- Species Name: Passerina caerulea
- Length: 14 cm to 19 cm
- Weight: 26 grams to 31 grams
- Wingspan: 26 cm to 29 cm
This stunning bird is a must-see species. Their coloration stands out stark against the green, red, and brown trees of New Jersey’s lush landscape.
The male blue grosbeak has a gorgeous blue body with chestnut brown wing bars and a pale bill. The black banding around his eyes gives him a bold look.
The female blue grosbeak has a cinnamon-brown body with hints of orange. You can see a little blue-gray along her wings and lower back.
These shy finches usually show up in New Jersey during breeding season. However, despite their bold plumage, they’re not the easiest birds to spot.
Blue grosbeaks prefer overgrown and shrubby areas where they can quickly hide from predators. While they will sometimes visit bird feeders, you’ll have to get a little clever to invite them over.
Blue grosbeaks generally prefer to eat insects, favoring crunchy species such as grasshoppers and beetles. However, they occasionally switch to seeds if their food supply dries up.
If you’re feeling bold and particularly patient, you can try attracting them with black oil sunflower seeds. Here’s a tip – place your bird feeder somewhere dense and overgrown so they’ll feel more safe.
The blue grosbeak may be tricky to spot, but their call is quite lively. Expect to hear sweet, lilting warbles that sometimes end in a trill.
Blue grosbeak chicks grow and leave the nest quite fast – sometimes in as little as ten days!
- Species Name: Pheucticus ludovicianus
- Length: 18 cm to 22 cm
- Weight: 35 grams to 65 grams
- Wingspan: 29 cm to 33 cm
No matter your favorite bird species, the rose-breasted grosbeak is guaranteed to take your breath away.
The male rose-breasted grosbeak regularly turns heads with his bold black plumage, white belly, and vivid red throat. If you look closely, you’ll see speckled white wing bars.
The female rose-breasted grosbeak is where the real birdwatching challenge begins! She has a completely different look, favoring soft browns with a flecked white belly.
You’ll be able to spot her more easily if you look for her characteristic white eyebrow and bright pink bill.
This lovely finch has an interesting range throughout New Jersey. They tend to show up in the northern portion of the state during breeding season but only migrate through the southern portions.
Rose-breasted grosbeaks aren’t all that shy, either. While they enjoy open woodlands and forest edges, they’ll happily visit well-tended parks, gardens, and backyards.
The rose-breasted grosbeak is a determined forager, often digging around the ground for insects, berries, and seeds. However, they’ll swiftly return to the trees if there’s any nectar.
You can attract these dazzling birds to your backyard with peanuts or sunflower seeds, but only if you use a platform feeder. They’re somewhat stocky finches that don’t do well with smaller feeding stations.
The rose-breasted grosbeak call is airy and whistling, though it’ll sometimes shift into a rich warble.
Step aside, house finch! The rose-breasted grosbeak is also territorial, so don’t be surprised if they shoo other birds away from the feeder.
- Species Name: Loxia curvirostra
- Length: 20 cm
- Weight: 40 grams to 53 grams
- Wingspan: 27 cm to 29 cm
No, your eyes aren’t playing tricks on you! The red crossbill has a unique beak shape not seen in many bird species.
The male red crossbill has a somewhat misleading name, as his plumage can range from brick red to yellow-orange. He has a unique criss-crossed beak and dark gray-brown wings.
The female red crossbill has a very misleading name! She’s usually light gray with hints of yellow on her belly and back.
These finches are a little more scarce in New Jersey and tend to stick to coniferous forests where they can feed on seeds. However, they’ll still step outside of their comfort zone if it means scoring an easy meal.
If they have conifer seeds, they’re happy. Red crossbills spend much of their time traveling between spruce, fir, and pine trees to root around for their main food supply.
They usually show up at people’s homes during the colder months. If you don’t feel like braving a freezing New Jersey winter to spot one, try attracting them to your backyard with sunflower seeds.
The red crossbill is impossible to miss here. Their squeaky and sometimes metallic call sounds like a rubber shoe on a clean floor.
The red crossbill’s criss-crossed mandibles are an adaptation to their main diet. Thanks to this beak, they’re able to slip between the narrow gaps of cones and pull out seeds.
- Species Name: Loxia leucoptera
- Length: 15 cm to 17 cm
- Weight: 24 grams to 26 grams
- Wingspan: 26 cm to 28 cm
Not sure what the differences are between the red crossbill and the white-winged crossbill? Don’t be hard on yourself – even biologists have a hard time distinguishing the two!
The white-winged crossbill, funnily enough, is often more red than the red crossbill. They have a light brick red body, dark wings, and two bold white wing bars.
The female white-winged crossbill has a very mottled gray body with the same two white wing bars. She usually has a little yellow on her lower chest or belly.
If you live in the northern part of New Jersey or plan on visiting, you might glimpse white-winged crossbills. They prefer to stick to coniferous forests where they can eat their fill of seeds.
Similar to the red crossbill, these finches enjoy rooting around for conifer seeds. That said, they’re quite happy to visit your backyard feeder if you stock up on hulled sunflower seeds.
Is that a sprinkler in the distance? Nope, it’s a white-winged crossbill – they have a sharp and rapid bird call that sounds like chir-chir-chir-chir-chir.
Sometimes this bird is referred to as the two-barred crossbill. This name refers to the male and female’s two bright white wing bars.
- Species Name: Acanthis flammea
- Length: 11 cm to 14 cm
- Weight: 12 grams to 16 grams
- Wingspan: 19 cm to 22 cm
Not a fan of winter? Sadly, the colder months are the only time you’ll see the common redpoll in New Jersey (unless you get really lucky).
The male common redpoll is one of the most adorable finches with its round body and tiny beak. He earns his name thanks to his big red forehead spot, though he also has some pink on his chest.
The female common redpoll looks similar to the male but with no pink on her chest and a slightly lighter body.
Common redpolls aren’t actually that common in New Jersey. This fact is due to their preference for consistently freezing environments.
However, they’re quite fond of boreal forests where they can stuff themselves on various seeds.
Common redpolls are huge fans of birch and alder seeds. They’ll also forage for weed seeds and occasionally switch to insects.
Keep your feeder stocked during the winter with thistle and sunflower seeds. If you’re extra patient, you might get a few visiting for an easy meal.
These birds are quite chatty, often letting loose repetitive chit-chit-chits and bright chirps.
The common redpoll doesn’t have the most flattering name. It’s also known as the mealy redpoll – mealy can mean flecked, pale, or plain.
- Species Name: Spinus pinus
- Length: 11 cm to 14 cm
- Weight: 12 grams to 18 grams
- Wingspan: 18 cm to 22 cm
This charming little fellow may not seem like a finch at first. Not only is he incredibly small and sleek, he has a very narrow beak.
The male pine siskin blends into the dappled light of the forest with his flecked body and streaked gray wings. He has a little bit of yellow along the edges of his wings.
The female pine siskin looks so similar that most people get the two confused. While she has less yellow than the male, this will be hard to see at a glance.
The pine siskin usually shows up in New Jersey during nonbreeding season and has a wide range of activity. While they clearly enjoy forests, hence the name, they’ll branch out into suburban environments.
If you enjoy casual nature walks, you’ll likely spot them in weedy fields or well-tended parks.
The pine siskin has a diverse diet that includes various vegetable matter and seeds. While they prefer birch and alder seeds, they’ll also eat weed seeds.
You’ll have no trouble attracting pine siskins to your feeder with thistle or sunflower seeds. Just be careful not to give them any seeds that are too big and hard – their beaks are very small!
This finch has one of the most startling calls in the finch family. You’ll easily identify their buzzing tzweeeee.
These birds sometimes get salt cravings like the rest of us. You may occasionally see them by roadsides licking up gravel to get their fix.
New Jersey Is a Peaceful, Productive Birding Spot
New Jersey isn’t just casino hotspots and bustling restaurants. This state is one of the most peaceful and productive birding spots thanks to its abundance of forests.
Hikers, campers, and nature photographers will have their fill with forest-loving finches such as the pine siskin, red crossbill, and common redpoll. However, backyard birders will have no trouble inviting over purple finches or American goldfinches.
Curious to learn more about New Jersey’s bird population? Read our Birds in New Jersey guide to learn about the state’s swallows, herons, and warblers!