10 Types of Finches in Ontario

Hi there, fellow bird enthusiasts! As someone who has spent countless hours in awe of the vibrant birdlife in Ontario, I am excited to share with you the beauty and diversity of finches in this Canadian province.

From their cheerful melodies to their colorful plumage, finches are a delightful sight to behold.

In this article, we will explore 10 types of finches that call Ontario their home.

Join me as we delve into the world of these charming birds and discover their unique characteristics and behaviors.

Let’s dive into the fascinating world of finches in Ontario and appreciate their role in the province’s avian biodiversity!

American GoldfinchAmerican Goldfinch
House FinchHouse Finch
Evening GrosbeakEvening Grosbeak
Red CrossbillRed Crossbill
Purple FinchPurple Finch
Common RedpollCommon Redpoll
White-Winged CrossbillWhite-winged Crossbill
Pine SiskinPine Siskin
Hoary Redpoll Hoary Redpoll

Types of Finches in Ontario

1. American Goldfinch

American Goldfinch

The American Goldfinch is a year-round resident of southern Ontario, although its population swells in spring and summer for breeding.

For the province as a whole, they appear on 44% of summertime and 27% of winter checklists.

The American goldfinch is a much-admired bird.

In the early spring, the males are striking black and yellow.

Both sexes are a darker brown in the winter, although females are much darker.

The American Goldfinch is a widespread, year-round bird that may be found throughout the majority of North America.

On the other hand, those that nest across the Midwest and Canada go south to the United States for the winter.

The American Goldfinch prefers asters, sunflowers, and thistles and may be found in weedy meadows and overgrown regions.

Even gardens, suburban backyards, and parks are filled with them.

American Goldfinches often build their nests in young trees or bushes.

On these nests, the female lays anywhere from 4 to 6 eggs consisting of grass, bark strips, and feathers.

The female incubates her eggs for around 10 to 12 days, whereas the male provides food for her.

Planting thistles and milkweed in your garden can bring in American Goldfinches.

They are common at bird feeders and like nyjer and sunflower seed.

It is well-known that Brown-headed Cowbirds will hatch their eggs in a nest occupied by American Goldfinches; however, the seeds in the diet provided by the parents are a poor diet for the young, and the Brown-headed Cowbirds’ offspring will perish.

2. House Finch

House Finch

House Finches are a year-round resident introduced species throughout Ontario.

They are not migratory, yet may be seen on just 8% of summertime and 12% of winter lists of the region, respectively.

Male House Finches are almost dark with a reddish crown and chest.

Women have dark streaks all over their bodies.

In the eastern United States, where House Finches were first discovered, they have thrived to the point that they have pushed out the Purple Finch, a native species.

House Finches are often seen in large, raucous flocks in a variety of settings, including woodland borders, farms, parks, and yard feeders.

They eat fruit, young leaves, and flower buds.

House finches often construct their nests in tree holes, dense underbrush, shrubs, and man-made buildings.

The female creates them from leaves, twigs, feathers, and other natural materials.

There may be anything from 2 to 6 eggs in a clutch, and the incubation period may last anywhere from 1 to 2 weeks.

Feeders stocked with milo, sunflower seeds, nyjer, or millet seeds can lure House Finches toward your yard.

3. Evening Grosbeak

Evening Grosbeak

Even though some Evening Grosbeaks may be seen across Ontario all year, winter is by far the most usual time to see one.

Only 2% of winter lists include them.

The Evening Grosbeak is a large bird having a bright yellow and black color scheme on its body and a large, stout bill.

All adult males may be easily identified by the brilliant yellow stripe that runs across their faces.

Their chests and bellies are yellow, while their heads appear black and their necks appear grey.

A white spot may be seen on each of their wings.

Females and immature males have yellowish necks and a greenish beak, while their bodies are predominantly grey, and their wings are white and black.

Northern California is the southernmost point where Evening Grosbeaks spend the winter.

When cone crops are low, however, they tend to go south to the southern states of the United States.

Evening Grosbeaks are common in wooded areas at high altitudes.

In the winter, they frequently visit backyard bird feeders in search of an easy food source.

Naturally, evening grosbeaks eat flower buds during the spring, treetop bug larvae in the summer season, and backyard feeders full of tiny fruit, berries, and seeds in the winter.

Typically, Evening Grosbeaks will build their nests among pine trees a maximum of 95 to 105 feet from the ground.

Twigs, grass, rootlets, pine needles, and moss are haphazardly woven together to form the nests.

A female may lay anywhere from 1 to 5 eggs, which she then tends for 2 weeks before they hatch.

Feeding birdseed, maple buds, and berries to the evening grosbeaks will bring them to your garden this winter.

The muscular bills of evening grosbeaks allow them to shatter seeds that are far tough for smaller birds to open, so they stick around to eat what some other birds leave behind.

4. Red Crossbill

Red Crossbill

Although the Red Crossbill is not often seen across Ontario, it has been seen here, typically in the southern part of the province during the winter.

Male Red Crossbills have darker wing and tail feathers than females.

Females are dark and yellow in color.

They have curiously twisted beaks that cross when they’re closed.

Their tails are notched. Teenagers have a darker complexion.

During the winter, red crossbills migrate to the eastern states from their year-round northern and western homes if the region’s cone harvest is inadequate.

Red Crossbills are most often seen among coniferous woods, however, they may also be seen at roadside grit bins first thing in the morning.

They swarm together to scavenge for conifer seeds, and their strong beaks may even crack open unopened cones.

Red Crossbills make their nests on the top of a pine tree.

They are shallow saucers coated with plants and moss, fashioned from roots, bark, and grass.

A maximum of five eggs are laid by the female, and that time frame might stretch to 20 days before the eggs hatch.

Peanut kernels, safflower seeds, suet, apple slices, fruits, and millet will all help bring Red Crossbills toward your gardens.

Different species of Red Crossbills possess distinct beak shapes and vocalization patterns while in flight.

5. Purple Finch

Purple Finch

Breeding Purple Finches may be found across Ontario from April through October.

Some people, however, choose to spend the whole year in this area.

Only 6% of summertime, while 2% of winter checklists include them.

Male Purple Finches possess bluish-green chests and heads, brownish wings and backs, and a whiter abdomen.

All of the female skin will have streaks of brown.

They are similar to the House Finch but with a redder upper back.

Although purple finches are strictly Canadian birds, they spend the winter in the eastern states and may be seen there year-round.

The Purple Finch is a woodland bird that prefers evergreen trees and eats a variety of plant materials besides seeds, including berries, buds, and nectar.

Purple finches often build their nests at the tops of tall trees.

They are constructed with branches, bark, weeds, and moss.

They may carry anything from 3 to 5 eggs, which the female incubates for 13 days.

Feeding your garden birds black oil sunflower seeds can help you entice Purple Finches.

6. Common Redpoll

Common Redpoll

Some Common Redpolls spend the mating season in northern Ontario, although these birds are more commonly seen in the southern half of the province.

Fewer than 10% of people in the wintertime don’t include them on their lists.

Common Redpolls feature bright red heads and a white and brown striped body.

Pink chests are not exclusive to females; males possess that too.

They possess short, notched tails and tiny bills typical of finches.

While Common Redpolls do spend some time in the heartland of the United States during the winter, they are more often seen in the northeast and north.

It is not uncommon for them to dig underground during the winter months in order to maintain a constant body temperature.

Their elastic esophagus can hold up to two grams of seeds, and they may consume up to 42 percent of their body weight per day.

Common Redpolls like weedy meadows and treetops with catkins for food, although they will visit bird feeders for thistle and nyjer seeds if they are offered.

Common Redpolls make their nests in sheltered areas, such as cracks in rocks or among dense, low shrubbery.

Nests are often constructed from insulating materials like feathers, moss, animal hair, and plant material to ensure the safety of the nestlings and their eggs.

After laying anywhere from 4 to 7 eggs, the female spends about 11 days tending to her nest as the young develop.

Young birds often remain in the nest for another two weeks after hatching, receiving nourishment and protection from their moms.

Feeding shelled sunflower and nyjer seeds to Common Redpolls can attract them to nest in your garden.

Birds of the species known as the Common Redpoll can withstand temperatures as low as -65 degrees Fahrenheit.

To keep themselves toasty, they add an extra 30 percent of feathers.

7. White-winged Crossbill

White-Winged Crossbill

The White-winged Crossbill is a species of bird that breeds in the northern parts of Ontario and migrates south for the winter.

Also, there are places where some individuals like to spend the whole year.

These heavy-crossed-beaked finches are called white-winged crossbills.

The males of this species are the ones that are red overall, with black wings and tails and two white wing bars.

Each female has two white wing bands and a brown and yellow body.

Forests in Alaska, Canada, and occasionally the northern states of the United States are home to White-winged Crossbills, especially during years with weak cone yields.

Seeds are the primary food source for White-winged crossbills, which are often seen among spruce woods.

The nests of White-winged Crossbills may be found in the crooks of horizontal tree limbs.

Crafted using natural materials such as moss, bark, twigs, lichens, and grass.

A maximum of five eggs may be laid by a female, and she will spend 2 weeks incubating the eggs before they hatch.

These birds are unusual in that they may lay eggs at any time of year, regardless of the season, provided there is adequate food.

The sound of several of them together is common.

8. Pine Siskin

Pine Siskin

While most of the year may be spent in Ontario, where Pine Siskins breed, their population swells during the autumn and spring migrations (February to April and October to November).

In the southern part of the province, they can be found year-round as well.

About 3% of summertime and winter checklists include them, whereas, during migrations, that number might rise to 7%.

Pine Siskins are little brown birds with yellow splotches on the tail and wings.

Their small, pointy beak resembles their sharp wings and forked tail.

Pine siskins winter in Canada’s and the western United States boreal woods.

Some species breed across Canada and then migrate south during the winter.

Pine cones are a staple crop, therefore, their distribution across North America varies.

Pine siskins get their maximum nutrients from conifer seeds, although they also consume weed and grass seeds and buds due to their general omnivorous nature.

Pine siskin nests are constructed 15 to 50 feet off of the ground and distant from the main stem of the tree.

Typically, they may lay about 2 to 6 eggs and their nest is constructed from moss, twigs, and bark.

The eggs have a typical incubation period of 13 days.

You may lure Pine Siskins into your gardens by putting sunflower seeds, suet, and Nyjer berries in feeders.

9. Hoary Redpoll

Hoary Redpoll
Credits – Wikipedia

As a winter bird, the best time to see a Hoary Redpoll in Ontario is from late November through April, especially in the southern part of the province.

Despite their little size, Hoary Redpolls are very durable birds.

All adults possess a red spot on their foreheads and are white overall.

Unlike adult females, adult men have reddish breasts.

True, females tend to have more stripes on their stomachs than men do.

Juveniles vary drastically in appearance from adults, with no red spot on the head and mostly grey skin with extensive streaking.

Hoary Redpolls spend the summer breeding in the Arctic and migrate southward just a short distance during the winter.

During the summer season, Hoary Redpolls may be seen in open subarctic evergreen woods and forested areas of the tundra with birches.

In the winter, they congregate in the open woods, brush, and weedy fields near the towns and cities.

Both alder and birch tree seeds and insects make up the bulk of their diet.

Hoary Redpolls build their nests out of sight in secluded places like tree cavities, rock outcroppings, and thickets of bushes.

The nest is constructed of twigs, grass, and rootlets, and it is lined using soft grass feathers and animal hair for padding.

On average, they lay 5 eggs, which need around 10 days to hatch.

After around two weeks, the chicks depart the nest.

The Hoary Redpoll may molt part of its body plumage if the weather becomes too warm.

10. Brambling


Although bramblings have been sighted in Ontario occasionally during the winter, this species is thought to be uncommon or incidental.

The brambling is a tiny bird having a black head and an orange neck and breast.

Several white and orange bands may be seen on their wings.

Their underbellies are a dazzling white.

It’s easier to confuse a female with a youngster since they both have similar patterns and the same distinctive orange coloring on the top of their heads.

Although bramblings are most often seen across northern Europe, Asia, and Africa, it is not uncommon for them to go to Alaska, sometimes Canada, and the northern states of the United States during their annual migration.

Bramblings are common among birch tree forests, willow groves, farmland, parkland, and even yards.

During the summer, they consume mostly insects, whereas, in the winter, they switch to eating seeds.

Bramblings often build their nests high in a tree, perched safely on a fork in the limb.

The females make the nest using materials such as moss, grass, and birch bark and then fortify it using wool, spider webs, and down feathers.

There might be as many as 7 eggs in the nest at once, and it usually takes about 2 weeks for them to hatch.


In conclusion, Ontario is home to a diverse array of finch species, each with its unique characteristics and behaviors.

From the vibrant and cheerful American Goldfinch to the elusive Evening Grosbeak, these birds bring beauty and charm to the Canadian province.

Whether you’re an avid birdwatcher or simply enjoy the beauty of nature, exploring the world of finches in Ontario can be a rewarding experience.

So grab your binoculars, head out to the woods or your backyard, and keep an eye out for these fascinating feathered creatures.

By appreciating and conserving the rich diversity of finches in Ontario, we can help protect and preserve these beautiful birds for future generations to enjoy.

Happy birding!


Where can I find finches in Ontario?

Finches can be found in various habitats across Ontario, including forests, woodlands, meadows, gardens, and even in urban areas. Some species, such as the American Goldfinch, are commonly found in backyards with bird feeders.

What do finches eat in Ontario?

Finches primarily feed on seeds, including those from plants like sunflowers, thistles, and conifers. Some species, like the Pine Siskin and Common Redpoll, also eat insects during the breeding season.

What are the distinguishing features of different finch species in Ontario?

Different finch species in Ontario can be identified by their unique physical characteristics. For example, the American Goldfinch is known for its bright yellow plumage and black cap, while the Purple Finch has a distinctive reddish coloration on its head and breast. The House Finch is typically brownish with streaks on its underparts, and the Pine Siskin has a streaked appearance with yellow wing bars. The Common Redpoll has a small size with a red cap and black chin, and the Evening Grosbeak is known for its large size, striking black and yellow markings, and thick bill.

Are finches year-round residents in Ontario?

While some finch species, like the American Goldfinch, Purple Finch, and House Finch, are year-round residents in Ontario, others, like the Pine Siskin, Common Redpoll, and Evening Grosbeak, are considered irruptive species. This means that their populations can vary greatly from year to year depending on food availability, and they may migrate or move in search of suitable food sources.

How can I attract finches to my backyard in Ontario?

To attract finches to your backyard in Ontario, you can provide them with suitable food sources such as nyjer (thistle) seeds, sunflower seeds, and suet. Setting up bird feeders and offering fresh water can also help attract finches and other birds to your backyard for observation and enjoyment.

Are finches protected species in Ontario?

Yes, finches, like all other bird species in Ontario, are protected under the provincial and federal laws that govern wildlife. It is illegal to harm, capture, or harass finches or their nests without proper permits or authorization. It is important to respect the laws and regulations in place to ensure the conservation and well-being of finches and other birds in Ontario.

Last Updated on April 20, 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.

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