Life Cycle of a Finch

Written by clara maxwell | 13/05/2017
Life Cycle of a Finch
Finch on branch (Image by, courtesy of Noël Zia Lee)

Finch is the common name for a variety of songbirds that belong to the family Fringillidae. Found over much of the world, finches include goldfinches, house finches, grosbeaks, juncos and cardinals. An identifying mark of most finches is the stout, conical bill used to crack open seeds.


Life Cycle of a Finch
Baby bird (Image by, courtesy of Audrey)

Finches hatch from eggs after an incubation of around two weeks. Blind and featherless at birth, baby finches depend on their parents for warmth, food and protection from predators.

Leaving the Nest

Finches leave the nest at around three weeks of age, and fend for themselves within a few days. Mortality is highest in the first year of life.


Life Cycle of a Finch
Finch in winter (Image by, courtesy of Luigi Torreggiani)

Many finch species migrate south in the fall, after the nestlings are ready to fly. In the spring, they return to their northern breeding grounds. Other species migrate only when local food is scarce, and some do not migrate at all.

Adulthood and Reproduction

Life Cycle of a Finch
Finches at feeder (Image by, courtesy of Larry & Teddy (nee Schlueter) Page)

In most species, the female builds an open cup nest in which she lays two to eight eggs. Mating pairs stay together throughout the summer breeding season.


In captivity, finches may live well over 11 years. In the wild, life expectancy is generally much shorter due to disease and predation.

Exotic Pet Finches

Life Cycle of a Finch
Nesting pair (Image by, courtesy of William Warby)

Many pet store birds that are called finches, including the zebra finch, belong to a different family. Despite the name, they are not considered true finches. Some true finches, including canaries, are also kept as pets.

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