11 Types of Finches in Illinois

The state of Illinois has been home to a wide range of avian species; in this article, we will discuss the finches that consider Illinois’ habitat.

While a few of these species make Illinois their permanent home, others are only here at certain times of the year since they are migrants.

In this article, we’ll go over some of the different types of finches in Illinois and their characteristics.

The details in this article will help you identify the many finch species found across Illinois.

American GoldfinchAmerican Goldfinch
Gray-Crowned Rosey FinchGray-Crowned Rosey Finch
House FinchHouse Finch
White-winged CrossbillWhite-winged Crossbill
Pine GrosbeakPine Grosbeak
Pine SiskinPine Siskin
Hoary RedpollHoary Redpoll
Red CrossbillRed Crossbill
Purple FinchPurple Finch
Evening GrosbeakEvening Grosbeak
Common RedpollCommon Redpoll

Types of Finches in Illinois

1. American Goldfinch

American Goldfinch

It is possible to see American Goldfinches across Illinois throughout the whole year; however, from July through October, their population swells due to nesting activity.

Bird watchers across the state have included a record of them on 44% of their summer and 25% of their winter checklists.

The American Goldfinch is a well-known species of bird. During the spring season, the males possess a color that is vivid black and yellow.

The ladies are a darker brown, while males in the wintertime are the same color.

The American Goldfinch is a species of finch that inhabits almost all of North America and stays put for the majority of the year.

On the other hand, during the winter months, those that spend their breeding seasons across Canada and the Midwest move to the southern states of the United States.


In weedy meadows and other overgrown regions, you could come across American Goldfinches scavenging for sunflowers, thistles, and asters among the vegetation.

They are prevalent in suburban areas, public parks, and private gardens as well.

Nesting sites for American Goldfinches are often found in young trees or dense shrubbery.

They are constructed up of strips of bark, grass, and plumage, and the female lays anywhere from 4 to 6 eggs on top of them.

It may take anywhere from ten to 12 days for the eggs to develop, and during that time, the male is responsible for feeding the female while she tends to the eggs.

Growing milkweed and thistles within your garden can entice American Goldfinches to make their home there.

They will come to most bird feeders, but their favorite foods are sunflower and nyjer seeds.

It is well knowledge that Brown-headed Cowbirds will hatch their eggs within the nest of an American Goldfinch.

Regrettably, the seed-based diet that perhaps the American Goldfinch couples provide their young is incompatible with their nutritional needs, and as a result, the young do not survive.

2. Gray-Crowned Rosey Finch

Gray-Crowned Rosey Finch
Credits – Wikipedia

The Gray-crowned Rosy-Finches seem to be an accidental species within the state of Illinois due to their exceedingly low population numbers.

They have not been seen in the region of University Park for a very long time.

The Gray-crowned Rosy-Finches resemble chunky birds that are of medium size. The forehead and neck of adults are black, the crown is grey, and the body is brown, having pink accents in the belly.

Adults may be distinguished from juveniles by these characteristics.

The bill of this species is yellow in the winter but changes to a dark color during the mating season.

Juveniles are brown and do not have any pink accents in their coloring.

After spending the summer breeding in both Alaska and western Canada, gray-crowned Rosy-Finches spend the winter across the western states of the United States.


During the summer, you may see Gray-crowned Rosy-Finches on snowfields high in the mountains, in desolate tundra, and on rocky islands.

They migrate onto valleys, wide plains, and cities throughout the winter, particularly if there are bird feeders available.

During the summertime, Gray-crowned Rosy-Finches graze on worms and other insects that are still alive but frozen among snowfields, glaciers, and meadows.

They consume mustard, sunflower seeds, and weeds throughout the winter months.

Nests of Gray-crowned Rosy-Finches are often discovered tucked away in cracks and crevices between cliffs and rocks, behind a rock, or even in old mines and cavities in abandoned structures.

Their nests are constructed of sedge, moss, roots, and grass, and they are covered with feathers, animal hair, and fine grass.

In most cases, the female will lay approximately four eggs, which will then start to lay eggs after 2 weeks. After another 2 weeks, the young will be able to leave the nest.


By providing them with black oil sunflower seeds, you may encourage Gray-crowned Rosy-Finches to make a home within your garden.

The seeds may either be scattered on the floor or placed on platform feeders.

The Gray-crowned Rosy-Finches are a strong contender for the title of “Highest Altitude Breeding Bird throughout North America,” given that they build their nests on the slopes of Denali, which is widely recognized as the highest mountain within North America.

3. House Finch

House Finch

The House Finch is a bird that was not native to Illinois but has now become established across the state. 

In spite of the fact that they do not migrate, bird watchers throughout the state have included them on 18% of their summer lists and 23% of their winter checklists.

Male House Finches are distinguished by their crimson heads and breasts, while the remainder of their bodies is mostly marked with brown streaks.

The females have brown spots all over their bodies.

House Finches were exclusively found in the western regions of the United States at one point, but they were later imported to the eastern states, where they have thrived so much that they have driven out the Purple Finch.


House Finches like to congregate in loud flocks that are difficult to miss and may be seen in areas such as parks, woodland borders, farms, and garden feeders. They eat things like seeds and fruit as well as buds.

Nests of House Finches are often discovered in dense vegetation, shrubs, natural hollow spaces, and sometimes even in man-made structures.

The female constructs them from plumage, leaves, grasses, and sticks, among other things.

There may be anywhere from 2 to 6 eggs present at any one moment, and the hatching process may take up to 2 weeks.

Put black oil sunflower seeds, millet, milo or nyjer seeds, and nyjer or milo seeds using tube feeders or platform feeders within your garden to entice house finches.

Caged House Finches were first introduced to the Long Island population.

After being released back into the wild, they quickly became successful and expanded all the way to the eastern United States.

4. White-winged Crossbill

White-Winged Crossbill

Throughout Illinois, White-winged Crossbills are generally classified as an accidental species; however, during the winter months, they are most often seen within the northern part of the state.

Finches with hefty beaks that are crossed in appearance are known as White-winged Crossbills.

Males are easily identifiable by their bright red plumage, black tails and wings, and two white wing bars.

The females are distinguished by their yellow and brown coloring, as well as two white wing bands.


White-winged Crossbills may be found in the woods of Alaska, Canada, and sometimes the northern states of the United States, although their primary habitat is Canada and Alaska.

In spruce woods, you could spot White-winged crossbills foraging for food among the seeds.

White-winged Crossbills build their nests in the crooks and crevices of horizontal tree limbs.

They are constructed from moss, twigs, grass, bark, and lichens, among other natural materials.

There might be as many as 5 eggs in a nest, and the female will incubate them for a total of 2 weeks until the young emerge from their shells.

These birds have the unusual ability to reproduce at any time of the year, provided there is sufficient food.

They sometimes travel in big flocks, which may sometimes be heard.

5. Pine Grosbeak

Pine Grosbeak

Pine Grosbeaks are incidental species within Illinois. They haven’t been seen in this state since quite some time ago, which isn’t surprising, given how uncommon they are there.

Male Pine Grosbeaks are typically red birds having grey on the tail and wings, and they have two white wing bars throughout in addition to their red coloring.

The rumps and heads of females have a dull orange color, and they have grey bodies.

They are big for finches and move rather slowly for their size.


Pine Grosbeaks are quite common across Canada, although they may also be seen in the Sierra Nevada, the mountainous western United States throughout California, and along the border between the United States and Canada.


Pine Grosbeaks are found among spruce, fir woods, and pine, where they subsist on the fruit, seeds, and buds produced by these tree species.

During the summertime, they will also consume a variety of insects.

The average height at which Pine Grosbeaks build their nests is 10 to 12 feet from the ground and in low trees.

The nests may house anywhere from 2 to 5 eggs and are constructed of twigs, bark, weeds, moss, and lichen.

These eggs are carried about by the female for around two weeks as she incubates them.

Suet feeders and black oil sunflower seed feeders are two of the best ways to get Pine Grosbeaks into your gardens.

The name “Pine Grosbeak” fits these birds well. “Pine dweller” is the literal translation of their scientific name, “Pinicola.”

6. Pine Siskin

Pine Siskin

Pine Siskins are typically spotted in Illinois during the spring and fall months when they are on their way north to spend the winter. Between the middle of September and the beginning of May, sightings of them are frequent.

They are seen throughout the winter on 3% of all checklists.

Pine Siskins are little birds that are brown in color and have yellow lines on the wings and tail. They possess a small pointed beak, sharp wings, and a tail that is forked in the middle.


Pine Siskins spend their whole lives in the coniferous woods near the Canadian border and the western United States. Breeding occurs for some of them across Canada before they go south for the winter.

They may be found throughout a large portion of North America. However, their distribution is highly dependent on the pine cone crop.

Pine Siskins mostly consume seeds from conifers, as the species name may imply, but they will also consume new buds and seeds from grasslands and weeds if given the opportunity.

Nests of Pine Siskins are constructed ten to 50 feet above the ground, distant from the tree trunk, and anywhere from 10 to 25 feet in width.

The nests are often constructed from bark, twigs, and moss, and they may hold anywhere from 3 to 5 eggs.

The eggs will not hatch for around fourteen days after being laid.


Nyjer and thistle feeders, as well as those with suet and black oil sunflower seeds, are great ways to get Pine Siskins to visit your gardens.

The chirping of the Pine Siskin is where the word “siskin” originated. Therefore, we may refer to it as a “pine chirper.”

7. Hoary Redpoll

Hoary Redpoll
Credits – Wikipedia

Although Hoary Redpolls are thought to be an uncommon or incidental species throughout Illinois, there have been sightings of them in the wintertime in the northern part of the state.

Hoary Redpolls are tough little birds despite their little size. Adults are easily identifiable by their white coloring and a distinctive red spot in the center of their foreheads.

Adult males possess a chest that is reddish in color; however, adult females do not possess this trait.

When compared to men, females exhibit a greater number of stripes on their abdomen. Juveniles have a completely different appearance than adults; they do not have a red spot on their forehead, and their bodies are largely grey with a lot of striping.

Hoary Redpolls migrate just short distances southward during the winter months since they reproduce in the Arctic.


During the summer, Hoary Redpolls are most likely to be seen in open subarctic green woods as well as protected tundra birch forests.

They go into the brush, open woods, and weedy fields during the winter months, making their way closer to villages and cities.

They also consume the seeds of alder and birch trees, as well as other insects.

Nests of the Hoary Redpoll may be found tucked away in the cavities of trees, the cracks and crevices of rocky regions, and thick shrubbery.

The nest is constructed of small branches, pieces of root, and grass, lined with fluffy grass plumes and animal hair for padding.

They typically lay between five and ten eggs, each of which takes around 10 days to hatch. The baby birds will fly out from the nest in around two weeks.

It is possible for the Hoary Redpoll to pluck off part of its body plumage if the weather in its surroundings gets very warm. Don’t be concerned; they will regrow.

8. Red Crossbill

Red Crossbill

Although they aren’t common throughout Illinois, Red Crossbills may be seen across the northern part of the state during the winter months.

Male Red Crossbills have a deeper shade of red overall, and their wings and tails are also darker.

The coloration of females is yellow and brown. Their mouthparts have an oddly twisted morphology that forms a cross when they are closed.

They possess notches cut onto their tails. The juveniles have a browner appearance.

Throughout the eastern states, red crossbills spend the winter only if there are insufficient cone crops among the northern and western states where they dwell year-round.


The Red Crossbill is most often seen in coniferous woods, although it may sometimes be seen foraging for food along the sides of highways in the morning.

They subsist on the seeds of conifers and move in large flocks from tree to tree in search of food, even using their strong beaks to crack open closed cones.

Near the very top of a pine tree is where you’ll find the Red Crossbills’ nests.

They are similar to shallow saucers and are formed of bark, roots, and grasses, having moss and plants lining the inside. The female lays anywhere from 3 to 4 eggs, and it might take up to 18 days for the eggs to hatch.


Suet, safflower, peanut kernels, apple slices, millet, and other fruits, may all be used to entice red crossbills to visit your gardens.

Red Crossbills exhibit a variety of beak shapes and sizes, and their flight cries are distinct from one another.

Birds that have the same kind of crossbill tend to congregate together and are able to understand each other’s flight calls.

9. Purple Finch

Purple Finch

Purple Finches are most often seen across Illinois during the spring and fall migrations; however, some of these birds remain throughout the winter season, from Sept to May.

Male Purple Finches possess chests and heads that are more of a reddish-purple color, while their wings and backs are browner, and their bellies are lighter in color.

The females have brown spots all over their bodies. They have a fairly similar appearance to the House Finch, but their backs, particularly the tops of their heads, are much redder.

Although they breed across Canada and spend the winter mostly in eastern states, Purple Finches may be seen around the northeast and along the Pacific coast throughout the whole year.


In addition to buds, seeds, berries, and nectar, Purple Finches may be found in evergreen woods where they forage for food.

Nesting territories of Purple Finches are often found in the canopy of trees. They are constructed of twigs, weeds, and bark in addition to moss.

They typically carry anything from three to five eggs, which the female incubates for a period of 13 days.

Black oil sunflower seeds are an excellent way to bring Purple Finches to your gardens and backyards.

The Purple Finch is the official bird of the state of New Hampshire.

10. Evening Grosbeak

Evening Grosbeak

Evening Grosbeaks are a species that is considered fragile within Illinois, however, they have been seen here during the winter.

Evening Grosbeaks are large, stocky birds with disproportionately large bills and a distinctive combination of black and yellow.

The adult males possess a brilliant yellow stripe that runs across their eyes, giving them a menacing appearance.

Their heads are dark, while their necks and chests are grey, and their bellies and chests are yellow. In addition, each of their wings has a white spot on it.

Females and immature males possess bills that are a bluish-green color, bodies that are predominantly grey, wings that are white and black, and a yellowish tint to the neck.

Evening Grosbeaks are found year-round throughout the southern portion of Canada as well as all way across the west coast toward northern California.

However, when there aren’t enough cones to go around, they go south to the majority of the states in the United States.


Forests and mountainous terrain are the best places to look for Evening Grosbeaks. In the winter, they are often drawn to the bird feeders that are placed within backyards, and the primary reason for this is that the feeders provide easy access to a source of food.

Evening Grosbeaks have a natural diet that consists of flower buds during the spring, insect eggs from branches in the summertime, and berries, seeds, and tiny fruit in the cold season.

During the spring season, they congregate at garden feeders to consume bug larvae.

The nests of Evening Grosbeaks are often located among pine trees at heights of up to 100 feet from the ground.

The nests are haphazardly constructed and comprised of twigs, grass, rootlets, pine needles, and moss, among other materials.

Typically, the female will lay anything from 1 to 5 eggs, which she will then tend to for the next 2 weeks until they are ready for hatching.

Sunflower seeds, maple buds, and berries are three foods that can entice Evening Grosbeaks to spend the winter in your garden.

Evening Grosbeaks get such strong bills that they’re able to break seeds that are difficult to crack for other birds.

Because of this, these birds stick around to consume whatever is left over after the other birds have finished eating.

11. Common Redpoll

Common Redpolls

During the winter months of October through April, Common Redpolls may be seen across Illinois, most often in the northern part of the state.

Small birds with red foreheads and brownish and whitish spotting on the rest of their body, Common Redpolls possess brown and white streaking on the remainder of their bodies.

Pink breasts are not exclusive to females; guys may also possess them. Their bills are rather tiny for finches, and they sport short notched tails.

Common Redpolls make their homes in the remainder of Canada and the northern states of the United States during the winter and may sometimes be seen in the middle states of the United States.


They will occasionally dig burrows into the snow during the winter season in order to maintain their body temperature as they sleep.

They are able to consume up to 42 percent of their body mass on a daily basis and have the capacity to store up to 2 grams of seeds in a stretchable park located in their esophagus.

Common Redpolls may be found eating catkins on trees or in weedy areas, but they also visit bird feeders looking for tiny seeds like thistle or nyjer seeds.

Common Redpolls build their nests in the crannies and cracks of rocks or in thick, low shrubbery. Moss, plant material, feathers, and animal hair are often used in the construction of nests since this helps to maintain both the nest and the eggs at a comfortable temperature.

The female lays anything from 4 to 7 eggs, which she incubates for around eleven days after they have been laid.

Even after they’ve emerged from their eggs, the young birds continue to spend their first two weeks of life in the nest with their moms, where they continue to receive nourishment and care.

By providing them with nyjer seeds and shelled sunflower seeds, you may encourage Common Redpolls to make a home in your garden.

The Common Redpoll is able to withstand temperatures as low as -65 degrees Fahrenheit without succumbing to hypothermia.

To maintain their warmth, they add around thirty percent more plumage.

Check out this article on Types of Finches in Michigan.


The finch is known for being one of the most attractive and fascinating birds that can be discovered in the state of Illinois.

Acquiring information about the various species of finches that can be discovered in the state of Illinois may prove to be of great use.

Following the completion of this article, you will have the knowledge necessary to differentiate between the several species of finches that are indigenous to the state of Illinois.

Please bring your camera along to view these beautiful birds in the environment in which they were meant to live.


Can you tell me about the finches of Illinois?

Once confined to only one area of Illinois, the house finch now lives across the state. Birds of this species originated in the west of North America but have now colonized eastern states like Illinois. In 1940, house finches, renamed “Hollywood finches,” were transported from California to New York.

How can I tell a finch from other birds?

Male adults have a rose tint to their faces and upper breasts, and their backs, bellies, and tails are marked with brown splotches. While in flight, the bright red tail feathers stand out. Female adults are a uniform greyish brown with thick, fuzzy streaks and a hardly distinguishable facial pattern.

Last Updated on March 22, 2023 by Lily Aldrin

About Lily Aldrin

I am Lily Aldrin. I attended Cornell University, where I obtained my degree to become an Ornithologist so I could pursue my love of these magnificent creatures in and out of their natural habitats.

Leave a Comment