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Cassin's Finch
Description  6 - 6 1/2" The male Cassin's Finch typically
has a brown back and wings, with pinkish over-wash and
white belly. His brightest coloring is on his crown. This bright
spot contrasts with the relatively pale areas surrounding it and
is a good field mark.

Males take two years to reach mature plumage, and one-year
males look like females.

The female has short, crisp streaks on her breast. The breast
streaks do not gather in a central spot as on many sparrows.
The female may also exhibit a faint whitish eyebrow.

Habitat  Open conifer stands at high elevations.  

Diet   Mostly seeds, buds, and berries. In summer they also
eat insects, but feed their young mostly seeds.

Nesting   Monogamous pairs typically form in late winter or
early spring, and groups may breed semi-colonially. They
usually nest in a large conifer, near the top of the crown, or
well out on a lateral branch.

The female builds the nest, which is a loose, open cup made
of twigs, weeds, and rootlets, lined with fine grass, plant
fibers, hair, and lichen.

The female incubates 4 to 5 bluish-green eggs, with dark
brownish spots for about 12 days. The male brings food to the
female while she incubates, and both adults bring food to the

The young leave the nest after about two weeks, and the
parents and young may quickly leave the nesting area, but will
remain in family groups. Pairs generally raise a single brood
each season.

Range  Breeds from southwestern Canada south to
southern California, Arizona, and New Mexico. Visits lowlands
during winter.

Cassin's Finches are short-distance migrants.  They leave
cooler climates in winter, except when heavy Ponderosa pine
seed crops provide enough food for them to stay. They may be
somewhat nomadic during winter.

Voice   Song is a series of warbles, similar to the Purple
Finch's but flutier and more varied. Call note, a high
pwee-de-lip, is diagnostic.

Discussion  Closely related to the Purple Finch and the
House Finch, but larger than both.  They are also found at
different altitudes and habitats.
March 2006
March 2006
Female and Male
March 2006
                                                                                              May 2009