Finch-like birds.

Seven families (Fringillidae, Estrildidae, Emberizidae, Thraupidae, Ploceidae, Passeridae and Cardinalidae) contain about 1000 out of the 6000 species in the order Passeriformes.

The 1000 species are small birds with stout, conical beaks generally associated with seed eating birds. Although they have evolved and diversified to occupy a range of habitats in most regions of the world they favour temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere, South America and parts of Africa.

These birds are known by a great many common names but the on which appears most frequently is Finch so I call them “Finch-like” birds.

Looking at the habitats favoured by these birds I find:-

• Grassland birds – fields, moorland and cultivated areas 31%
• Forest birds 20%
• Woodland birds 16%
• Highlands and mountain birds 20%
• Desert, scrub and shrub birds 9%
• Wetland reed-bed birds 4%

I see the “Finch-like” birds in the following sub-groups:-

Finch by name and Finch by nature – a range of fairly well known birds including Chaffinch, Brambling, Bullfinch, Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Rosefinch, Hawfinch, Linnets, Canaries, Seedeaters, Waxbills, Mannikins, Munias, Bishops and Widowbirds. Nearly all of these are actually multi-species birds.

Old World Buntings – again fairly well known birds like the Corn Bunting, Reed Bunting and Yellowhammer tend to be a little more terrestrial in their behaviour.

Sparrows – Old World birds include the well known House and Tree Sparrows but Africa has some interesting species such as the Desert Sparrow. The New World region – has about three times as many species as are found in the OW regions.

Weavers or Weaver Finches – are birds of Africa with specialised nest building techniques.

New World Buntings, Cardinals, Grosbeaks and Saltators – have taken the stout, conical beak to extremes.

Tanagers – a bit of a catch-all family, about 145 of the species in Thraupidae can be considered to be “Finch-like” birds.

In total I suggest that about 830 out of the 1034 species listed in the 7 families can be regarded as Finch-like birds.

To see more about these birds, including thumbnail images illustrating the various sub-groups mentioned above, click on the blue Files at the bottom of this page and select PASSERINES.