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Number of species: 72

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House Finch - Haemorhous mexicanus

House Finches can usually be sexed easily by presence (male) or absence (female) of red plumage. Age can be somewhat trickier to determine, but is often possible through examination of the wing.

Since some House Finches undergo a complete preformative molt, individuals lacking molt limits should be considered age unknown (in late fall) or after-hatch-year (from January through fall). More study on the frequency of complete preformative molt in different parts of the range may refine the need for application of this precautionary approach.

Quick Tips:

  • Look at the head and upper breast - any red plumage indicates a male, while lack of red generally suggests a female, although HY males also have no red until their preformative molt.
  • Compare the greater coverts and primary coverts - there is usually a molt limit between darker grayish-brown greater coverts and paler brown primary coverts on HY/SY birds, while they appear uniform in colour and wear on AHY/ASY birds
  • Examine the primaries - some HY/SY individuals show an eccentric molt, with darker/fresher outer primaries and inner secondaries; uniform primaries and secondaries can indicate either HY/SY or AHY/ASY
  • Check the rectrices - if some or all are narrow and tapered they indicate a HY/SY bird, but if they are all uniformly broad and rounded the bird may be either AHY/ASY or HY/SY

Species account prepared by McGill Bird Observatory

Click on any image below to bring up the side-by-side comparison tool.
Age / Sex  Image sets 
Juvenile / Unknown
Entirely brown; rectrices often somewhat narrow and tapered; can look quite similar to AHY-F
Thumbnail - MG2-2291-32403-Carpodacus_mexicanus_AOU_7_52-3264.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2291-32403-Carpodacus_mexicanus_AOU_7_52-3262.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2291-32403-Carpodacus_mexicanus_AOU_7_52-3263.jpg
Date: Jul 18
Hatch year / Male
Little to considerable red plumage; molt limits on the wing (including replaced outer primaries in some individuals); mix of old and new rectrices on some individuals
Thumbnail - MG2-1271-87033-Carpodacus_mexicanus_AOU_7_52-3243.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-1271-87033-Carpodacus_mexicanus_AOU_7_52-3241.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-1271-87033-Carpodacus_mexicanus_AOU_7_52-3242.jpg
Date: Nov 23
Hatch year / Unknown
Lack of any red plumage; molt limits on the wing (including replaced outer primaries in some individuals); mix of old and new rectrices on some individuals
Thumbnail - MG2-2431-74936-Carpodacus_mexicanus_AOU_7_52-3252.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2431-74936-Carpodacus_mexicanus_AOU_7_52-3250.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2431-74936-Carpodacus_mexicanus_AOU_7_52-3251.jpg
Date: Oct 11
After hatch year / Male
Red plumage on the head and upper breast; broad and rounded rectrices and outer primary coverts; no molt limit on wing
Thumbnail - MG2-2581-69187-Carpodacus_mexicanus_AOU_7_52-3240.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2581-69187-Carpodacus_mexicanus_AOU_7_52-3238.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2581-69187-Carpodacus_mexicanus_AOU_7_52-3239.jpg
Date: Dec 7
After hatch year / Female
Lack of any red plumage; broad and rounded rectrices and outer primary coverts; no molt limit on wing
Thumbnail - MG2-2541-76048-Carpodacus_mexicanus_AOU_7_52-3237.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2541-76048-Carpodacus_mexicanus_AOU_7_52-3235.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2541-76048-Carpodacus_mexicanus_AOU_7_52-3236.jpg
Date: Dec 7
Second year / Male
Little to considerable red plumage; molt limits on the wing (including replaced outer primaries in some individuals); mix of old and new rectrices on some individuals
Thumbnail - MG2-2581-69601-Carpodacus_mexicanus_AOU_7_52-3258.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2581-69601-Carpodacus_mexicanus_AOU_7_52-3256.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2581-69601-Carpodacus_mexicanus_AOU_7_52-3257.jpg
Date: Mar 26
Second year / Unknown
Thumbnail - MG2-2581-69200-Carpodacus_mexicanus_AOU_7_52-3261.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2581-69200-Carpodacus_mexicanus_AOU_7_52-3259.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2581-69200-Carpodacus_mexicanus_AOU_7_52-3260.jpg
Date: Mar 24
After second year / Male
Red plumage on the head and upper breast; broad and rounded rectrices and outer primary coverts; no molt limit on wing
Thumbnail - MG2-2581-69602-Carpodacus_mexicanus_AOU_7_52-3255.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2581-69602-Carpodacus_mexicanus_AOU_7_52-3253.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2581-69602-Carpodacus_mexicanus_AOU_7_52-3254.jpg
Date: Mar 26

Additional age / sex class descriptions

The following additional age / sex class descriptions were found for this species:
Age / Sex   Age / Sex class description
After second year / Female Lack of any red plumage; broad and rounded rectrices and outer primary coverts; no molt limit on wing
Second year / Female Lack of any red plumage; molt limits on the wing (including replaced outer primaries in some individuals); mix of old and new rectrices on some individuals.
Number of species: 72

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