House Finches are tiny, beautiful, and bold. They don’t seem to be afraid of humans very much, if at all. Is it that they trust us more than other animals, or are House Finches aggressive?
House Finches can be a little aggressive, although this is mostly when they are nesting or in competition with other birds for a food source.
Despite their tiny size, they are definitely a little bolder than most avian species, and as a result, they seem to be less frightened and more inclined to interact with humans.
To paint a better picture of when one might expect aggression from a House Finch, we’ll need to break down scenarios where they will definitely be assertive birds. Let’s talk about House Finch tempers and temperaments so that you can see what we mean!
Are House Finches Aggressive With Other Birds?
House Finches aren’t afraid to chase off other birds for food, but when you take a closer look at their interactions with other birds outside of nesting or extreme competition for food, then a pattern emerges. They actually aren’t so aggressive, after all.
Starting off, they seem to get along with their cousins, and if you live in Washington, you can see Purple and Cassin’s finches sharing a backyard feast or perching on branches close to House Finches, and everyone seems to be having a civil or even a ‘friendly’ time.
So, what about other birds? Well, it’s not uncommon to see Chickadees, Cardinals, Doves, and Nuthatches sharing a safflower snack at your feeder with House Finches, and they all get along like gangbusters.
In captivity, House Finches will usually get along with neophema genus parrots, and in the wild, they sometimes flock with the occasional Pine Siskins, American Goldfinches, and House Sparrows – although, with the last species, we may have the root of the ‘House Finches are aggressive’ stories you’ve heard!
House Finches Vs. House Sparrows
House Finches and House Sparrows can get along… or at least until they DON’T. It’s not that they hate each other innately, but rather that they are both very competitive (and depending on who you ask) invasive species.
House Finches, for instance, used to only be found in the western United States and in Mexico, where they seemed quite content to ‘hang their little hats’ and stay in their territories. This changed in 1939 when some pet shop owners wanted to avoid prosecution for selling them and decided to release them in the wild.
Within 50 years’ time, you could find them just about anywhere in the eastern or western United States, and don’t even ask about Hawaii – they were introduced there even sooner, way back in 1859!
House Sparrows, by contrast, were introduced in North America as a form of ‘natural pest control.’ This was in 1851, and a man named Eugene Schieffelin felt that they were the perfect solution to protect local Basswood trees.
The idea was that House Sparrows could eat caterpillars before they could turn into hungry Linden moths.
Needless to say, House Sparrows can fly, so naturally, they decided that a diet of those specific caterpillars was starting to get old, and the rest is history.
House Sparrows are EXTREMELY aggressive, so much so that they will attack and kill other birds competing for food, and they’ll even get their nests and eggs!
Impressively, the House Finch is one of the few birds that are willing to stand up to them, and a love/hate sort of relationship has arisen.
The numbers even back it up – according to Feederwatch, whenever House Finch populations are up in one area, then House Sparrow populations are down, and vice-versa. Does this make House Finches aggressive or simply ‘brave against bullies’? That probably depends on which species you like the most!
Are House Finches Aggressive Toward Humans?
When interacting with humans, House Finches seem to be quite friendly. Often you may approach and get very close to them at the feeder, and after a quick look askance, they’ll continue happily munching at the lovely treats that you’ve left out for them,
That said, likely your interpretation of their behavior is going to depend on two main factors. First, the size of the flock, and secondly, whether or not you are growing a garden or even cultivating a field.
While we are used to seeing House Finches in cute little flocks of 5-15, once they’ve found a particularly bountiful feeder setup, that number can go just to 50 fairly quickly.This can be a wonderful thing or a very bad one – as some of us have a nice backyard garden, and a 50-flock is definitely going to notice this.
If you’re a farmer, then you might feel that House Finches are not only aggressive but very much a nuisance, as they can arrive in flocks of HUNDREDS and make a noticeable dent in crop yields when they do.
Does this make them aggressive? It’s mostly a ‘point of view’ interpretation, but in our thought, it just makes them hungry birds that are ‘going where the food is.’ If you want aggressive, we’d recommend Shrikes or Northern Mockingbirds – now THOSE are some aggressive birds!
So, in this article, we’ve shared some fun facts in order to answer the question ‘Are House Finches aggressive?’ The answer roughly equates to ‘not really, unless House Sparrows aren’t playing friendly.
House Finches definitely have a wide territory and can be problematic for gardens or larger agricultural ventures, although a combination of clever netting placement and limiting their nesting options by managing woodpiles and controlling shrubs can go a long way towards reducing this.
For most average birders, however, they are just colorful little finches that share our backyards and bring smiles to our faces, and they visit us like clockwork every year! As such, when it comes to judging their aggression, we’d have to say that the final ‘verdict’ will ultimately be up to you!
Recommended Read: Why Would A House Finch Abandon Its Nest?