Finches in Ohio

10 Finches in Ohio: A Captivating Bird Lover’s Guide

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With rollicking farmland and lush forests, Ohio is quite the destination for nature lovers. However, bird lovers will also enjoy their time here with the following 10 fascinating finches to spot.

Finches are delightful little songbirds who tend to thrive no matter the environment they’re in. However, since they’re big fans of seeds, they’re most fond of forested or shrubby locations.

Ohio’s carefully tended landscapes and parks are prime locations for birdwatching. If you enjoy boating, you may glimpse a few in the shrubby areas by the famed Lake Erie.

Have you been thinking of getting a few finches down on your birdwatching list? I’ll help you spot 10 finches in Ohio by their appearance, birdsong, and fun facts.

Pine Siskin

Pine Siskin
  • Species Name: Spinus pinus
  • Length: 11 cm to 14 cm
  • Weight: 12 grams to 18 grams
  • Wingspan: 18 cm to 22 cm

The first finch on our list doesn’t have quite as much coniferous forest to enjoy compared to other states, but you’ll still see them. Pine siskins are one of the most common finches and are easy to spot thanks to their yellow coloration.

Appearance

The male pine siskin is a delicate fellow with a sleek body, a light weight, and dappled coloration. He’s mostly yellow-olive with darker wing bars and a lighter stomach.

The most unusual aspect of the pine siskin is their surprisingly small beak, which limits which seeds they can eat.

The female pine siskin looks very similar to the male but has less yellow on her wings.

Range

Pine siskins show up throughout the state during the non-breeding season. As such, you’ll likely run into a few if you go on a scenic nature walk through the state’s numerous state parks.

These finches prefer to stick to forests where they can forage for food or build their nests. However, this pine dweller is flexible enough to seek out gardens, open fields, or backyards if their food supply runs low.

Diet

The majority of a pine siskin’s diet revolves around pine seeds, but they shake things up depending on the available supply. They sometimes nibble on weeds, plant matter, and the occasional insect.

You’ll be able to attract pine siskins to your backyard feeder with black oil sunflower seeds during the winter months. However, they have smaller beaks and can’t eat larger seeds.

Birdsong

The pine siskin continues to charm with their freewheeling, squealing call. Expect to hear long, excitable tzweees.

Fun Fact

Since pine siskins are a little unpredictable during migration, they might show up to your feeder outside of winter, too!

Evening Grosbeak

Evening Grosbeak
  • Species Name: Hesperiphona vespertina
  • Length: 16 cm to 22 cm
  • Weight: 38 grams to 68 grams
  • Wingspan: 30 cm to 36 cm

These finches are more sparse in Ohio, but they’re also one of the easiest to spot. Their large size and bold coloration make them stand out like a beacon.

Appearance

Males aren’t easy to overlook with their vivid yellow bodies and white patched black wings. Their pale bill and yellow eyebrow almost make them look like they’re frowning.

The female evening grosbeak is quite lovely, too! She has a light gray-olive body with dark wings and white wing patches.

If you look closely, you’ll see hints of yellow on her neck or upper chest.

Range

Evening grosbeaks crop up in Ohio year-round, but they’re a little on the scarce side. This little detail is due to the fact Ohio doesn’t have nearly as much forest as it used to.

However, if you visit the state’s deciduous forests, you’ll likely glimpse a few. They tend to show up outside of forests during winter when they run low on food.

Diet

Unlike the tiny pine siskin, the evening grosbeak has a large, tough bill that’s able to crack open any seed. As such, they’ll eat a variety of seeds, insects, and fruits.

They’ll have no trouble enjoying themselves at a feeder stocked with sunflower seeds…as long as it’s a platform feeder. These stocky birds are too big for tube feeders.

Birdsong

The evening grosbeak song isn’t as bombastic as other finches, but their simple calls are rather unique. Expect to hear light chirps and soft, buzzing notes with long pauses.

Fun Fact

You may confuse these beautiful birds with the similar Eurasian hawfinch. The key difference lies in their coloration – the hawfinch is dusty-orange, while evening grosbeaks are vivid yellow or gray.

Blue Grosbeak

Blue Grosbeak
  • Species Name: Passerina caerulea
  • Length: 14 cm to 19 cm
  • Weight: 26 grams to 31 grams
  • Wingspan: 26 cm to 29 cm

Do you live in southern Ohio or plan on visiting there soon? Keep a sharp eye out for the elusive and rather shy blue grosbeak, a personal favorite of mine.

Appearance

The male blue grosbeak dazzles with his bright blue plumage, chestnut brown wing bars, and gray bill. His slim body makes him look like other blue songbirds at a glance.

The female blue grosbeak has a dusty gray-brown body with hints of blue around her rump and tail. If you ask me, she’s just as gorgeous as the males are!

Range

These beautiful finches usually show up in southern Ohio during breeding season but are quite scarce at any other time of the year. They’re most comfortable in shrubby and overgrown areas where they can quickly hide from predators.

These environments also allow them to get their dominant food supply with less work.

Diet

While flying insects can be a nuisance during summer, blue grosbeaks do their best to clean things up. These finches regularly eat insects such as grasshoppers, beetles, and cicadas.

However, blue grosbeaks sometimes turn to seeds when the local insect supply runs low. As such, you can attract them to your feeder with black oil sunflower seeds.

To increase your chances of spotting one, place your bird feeder somewhere shrubby and thick. This safe environment is like a beacon to the shy blue grosbeak.

Birdsong

The blue grosbeak is just as darling to listen to as it is to look at. Expect to hear lilting and soft warbles occasionally mixed with whistles and chirps.

Fun Fact

These colorful finches exist in an interesting scientific middle ground. Blue grosbeaks are also closely related to cardinals and buntings, other notable songbirds.

Rose-Breasted Grosbeak

Rose-breasted grosbeak
  • Species Name: Pheucticus ludovicianus
  • Length: 18 cm to 22 cm
  • Weight: 35 grams to 65 grams
  • Wingspan: 29 cm to 33 cm

Once you spot this bird, you’ll have a hard time looking away. The rose-breasted grosbeak makes it very clear why they earned their name!

Appearance

The male rose-breasted grosbeak immediately catches people’s eye for his black body, white belly, and vivid red chest spot. His conical bill shape is easy to spot thanks to its pale color.

The female rose-chested grosbeak looks entirely different from the male. She has sparrow-like coloration with a brown body, white belly, and white head streak.

Range

Northern Ohio will see plenty of rose-breasted grosbeaks during the breeding season, but they’re scarce any other time of year. Southern Ohio will only glimpse this bird during migration.

It’s a small wonder why these birds are so comfortable in the state. Ohio is home to open woodlands and spacious parks, some of their favorite places to forage for food.

Diet

While you’re out on a nature walk, make sure to look down instead of up. These delightful finches prefer to forage through bushes and shrubs for a mixture of seeds, berries, and insects.

Sunflower seeds are a safe bet to attract them to your backyard but switch to a platform feeder. Rose-breasted grosbeaks get a little large and aren’t always suitable for smaller feeders.

Birdsong

If you’re able to whistle, you could probably make a good impression of a rose-breasted grosbeak. Their song sounds similar to a human whistling a tune, albeit with more warbling.

Fun Fact

Got any mulberry growing nearby? Rose-breasted grosbeaks are so fond of the plant that they flock to it like a magnet to metal.

Common Redpoll

Common Redpoll
  • Species Name: Acanthis flammea
  • Length: 12 cm to 14 cm
  • Weight: 11 grams to 20 grams
  • Wingspan: 19 cm to 22 cm

If you’re ready to strap in for a blustering Ohio winter, the common redpoll should be on your list. These adorable birds usually only show up during the colder seasons due to their hardy nature.

Appearance

Male common redpolls stand out stark against the snow with their red forehead spot. The rest of their body is a light, tawny brown with darker wing bars.

You’ll also notice the male redpoll has a blushing chest, like wine spilled on a tablecloth.

The female common redpoll looks rather similar but with a lighter body and no red chest.

Range

This finch has an interesting range. They usually show up in most of the state, but only during winter.

Common redpolls also aren’t fond of dense forests, preferring weedy fields or open fields. Considering they usually show up in arctic tundra, this preference makes sense.

Diet

Alder and birch seeds are their preferred food, but they don’t usually pass up a feeder. See if you can attract some during the winter with thistle or sunflower seeds.

Birdsong

The common redpoll song is sweet and bright, often composed of repetitive chit-chit-chit notes. You’ll also hear a few long chirps or tweets.

Fun Fact

Recent research has found the common redpoll to be the same species as the Arctic redpoll and the hoary redpoll. However, there are still subtle visual differences that can be fun to spot.

White-Winged Crossbill

White-Winged crossbill
  • Species Name: Loxia leucoptera
  • Length: 15 cm to 17 cm
  • Weight: 24 grams to 26 grams
  • Wingspan: 26 cm to 28 cm

Want another birdwatching challenge? The white-winged crossbill is a scarce sight in Ohio, but knowledge about their feeding habits will help you spot them.

Appearance

The white-winged crossbill stands out quickly for its criss-crossed beak. This unique conical bill is an adaptation to help them dig out pine seeds.

Males have a brick red or berry red with brown wings and large white wing bars. Females tend to have more gray and yellow bodies but with the same beak and wings.

Range

Coniferous forests are usually where you’ll find these active and sociable birds. These locations ensure they’ll rarely run out of their primary food supply, but keep an eye out.

White-winged crossbills are a dynamic bunch and may still shake up their migration patterns to find more food.

Diet

These birds have a unique bill shape for conifer cones and will even eat their food upside down. They adore tamarack, spruce, and hemlock seeds.

Keep your feeder stocked with sunflower seeds, particularly if you live in a less forested area. White-winged crossbills passing through won’t be able to resist a visit.

Birdsong

White-winged crossbills often have classic warbles, but they can sometimes sound like a cricket, too! Listen closely and you may hear shrill chee-chee-chees.

Fun Fact

While they’re committed fans of pine cones, the white-winged crossbill has been seen eating the occasional insect.

Purple Finch

Purple Finch
  • Species Name: Haemorhous purpureus
  • Length: 12 cm to 16 cm
  • Weight: 18 grams to 32 grams
  • Wingspan: 22 cm to 26 cm

The charming coloration of the purple finch means they are frequently on bird-watching lists. It also helps that they’re less shy of people and love to gather in flocks at feeders.

Appearance

The male purple finch is a rosy vision, covered in reddish pink with brown wings and a pale belly. If you have binoculars on you, you may notice subtle streaks of brown around his eyes.

The female purple finch has neither purple nor red, opting instead for a brown body with a spotted stomach. She also has streaks around her head, but white.

Range

Purple finches are a common sight in gardens, backyards, parks, and quiet suburban areas. You’ll see them throughout the year, but they get rather scarce during the winter.

If you want to plan out a trip, consider visiting the Clear Creek Metro Park. This forested area sees dozens of bird species, up to and including common finch species.

Diet

It’s a shorter list to say what the purple finch won’t eat. This adaptable songbird enjoys insects, seeds, berries, and plant matter.

However, they’re most likely to visit your feeder if you have thistle or sunflower seeds on hand.

Birdsong

The purple finch has a rich song with rising, lilting warbles that end on a sharp high note.

Fun Fact

Try not to confuse the house finch and the purple finch! They look similar at a glance, but purple finches are more rosy overall.

House Finch

House Finch
  • Species Name: Haemorhous mexicanus
  • Length: 13 cm to 14 cm
  • Weight: 16 grams to 27 grams
  • Wingspan: 20 cm to 25 cm

Speaking of the house finch! These finches are an incredibly common sight both in Ohio and across the United States in general.

Appearance

Males look similar to the purple finch but with a few subtle differences. They have a similar reddish-pink head, but their bodies are browner.

The female house finch has a light gray-brown body with streaks of white and a pale bill.

Range

If you’re not up for a large trip, you’ll be glad to know house finches will close the gap for you. These birds are just as comfortable in parks and gardens as they are near forest edges.

Expect to see these birds year-round, even if you live in a more urban area.

Diet

House finches enjoy a diverse diet of seeds, flower buds, and any fruit they can get their claws on. They’re a common sight in orchards for this reason, but not enough to be a pest species.

Fill up your bird feeders with millet or nyjer seeds to bring them over. Just be mindful that they’re territorial and will often squabble with other bird species for feeding rights.

Birdsong

House finches have one of the sweetest calls of the finch family. They usually have a twittering warble, but will sometimes let out airy cheeps and chrrs.

Fun Fact

The house finch used to be called a Hollywood Finch back in the 40’s.

American Goldfinch

American Goldfinch
  • Species Name: Spinus tristis
  • Length: 11 cm to 13 cm
  • Weight: 11 grams to 20 grams
  • Wingspan: 19 cm to 22 cm

Whether you’re homebound or prefer your backyard over long trips, the American goldfinch will liven things up. These jolly finches are a fantastic species to watch for their energetic personalities.

Appearance

The season will determine how easily you spot male American goldfinches. During breeding season, these finches have a bright yellow color, black wings, and white wing bars.

However, outside of the breeding season, their yellow feathers shift into a soft olive color.

Female American goldfinches look similar to the males outside of breeding season. However, they lack the males’ jet-black cap.

Range

American goldfinches stick in Ohio year-round, though they are much more common during spring and fall. Since they prefer to travel in large flocks, you’ll have a hard time missing them.

If you live in a suburban area or next to a park, you won’t have to travel far for some birdwatching. These finches are not shy and will even visit your backyard if you have an incentive.

Diet

These finches voraciously forage through grasses and weeds for their favorite foods. They usually steer clear of insects but may eat them during the summer if they can’t find enough seeds.

American goldfinches enjoy nyjer and sunflower seeds, so stock up your feeders and watch them flock over.

Birdsong

This popular bird has a sweet and twittering call that sometimes sounds like chwee-er-chwee-er-chwee.

Fun Fact

American goldfinches weave nests that look like tiny cups.

Gray-Crowned Rosy-Finch

Gray-Crowned Rosy-Finch
  • Species Name: Leucosticte tephrocotis
  • Length: 14 cm to 21 cm
  • Weight: 22 grams to 60 grams
  • Wingspan: 33 cm

I’ll wrap this list up with a bird watcher challenge – the elusive and accidental gray-crowned rosy-finch. This bird doesn’t usually show up in Ohio, but a few people have spotted them here and there.

Appearance

The male gray-crowned rosy-finch is a hard bird to mix up. His unique brown plumage mingled with a gray head is quite striking.

He also has a dusting of pink along his stomach, though you may see a little on his wings, too.

Female gray-crowned rosy-finches look similar but with less pink. It’s easy to confuse adult females with juveniles, so keep an eye on their yellow beak — young birds have a pale conical bill instead.

Range

This finch usually prefers isolated areas in the far-flung reaches of the tundra. They frequent rocky cliffs and distant mountain regions, so Ohio’s rolling hills aren’t usually of interest.

However, you may occasionally spot them in Ohio during winter as they migrate.

Diet

Gray-crowned rosy-finches enjoy snatching insects out of mid-air during the summer but enjoy seeds during the winter. Seeds are a prime food source when it gets cold due to their fat and oil content.

If you’re patient and extremely lucky, you may get them to visit your backyard with black oil sunflower seeds. Just make sure to set them out during the winter on a platform feeder.

Birdsong

This stocky finch has a dynamic and buzzy chirp that sometimes transitions into warbles.

Fun Fact

Try not to get this bird confused with the black rosy-finch! The gray-crowned rosy-finch has a grayer head, while the black rosy-finch has a darker body.

The Ohio Landscape Is Brimming With Finch Species

While hiking and camping are a load of fun, nature walks have their own appeal. Ohio’s scenic trails and plentiful finches make even the slowest stroll an adventure.

Ohio is home to a whopping 75 state parks where you can enjoy these finches in their natural habitat. You may glimpse some rose-breasted grosbeaks foraging in shrubs or purple finches flocking to their next meal.

However, if you want to stay home and cozy up with a hot drink, you may have some American goldfinches visit your feeder.

What other birds make their home in Ohio? We have a guide on birds in Ohio to help you spot common (and slightly less common!) species.

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