In many places, a walk in nature might involve the bright flash of wings as birds flutter among the shadows cast by trees. It’s quite possible that at least one of these sightings will be a member of the finch family. The four different finch species are the fringillidae, the estrildidae, the ploceidae and the passeridae. All members of the finch families are seed-eating birds with hard bills. They also are known to catch and eat bugs, and during breeding season, it is not uncommon for finches to eat softer foods such as berries.
The first of the finch species, considered true finches, is that of the fringillidae. There are at least 125 varieties of this particular finch species, including three types of goldfinches. This family of finches is divided into two subgroups: chaffinches and the cardueline finches that include rose finches and canaries. These birds have a wide range of habitats, including grassy areas, deserts and snow-topped mountains.
Another one of the finch species is the estrildidae, which has at least 133 varieties, including zebra finches, waxbills, grass finches and parrot finches. Their size and manner make them easy to care for, so members of this family are commonly found in pet stores. They are known for their large, dome-shaped nests. Males of this family will put on elaborate shows that include singing, hopping around and flying in circles to impress the females. Color variations include blues, greens, yellows and reds, and as is common with many birds, the males have brighter colors to help attract mates.
The ploceidae is a finch species that has at least 156 varieties, and it includes weavers and whydahs. These finches are known as weavers because of the way they construct their nests. Some nests are simply constructed, but others are more elaborate with tunnel-like entrances. Weavers sometimes nest in large colonies in open grasslands that have scattered trees. These are social birds, and the male weavers have elaborate courtship rituals.
The passeridae family of finches contains at least 32 finch species, including sparrows and snow finches. They enjoy rural habitats such as woods, swamps and marshes, but it is not uncommon to find them nesting in buildings areas. There is not much color to these birds. They are brown or gray with black or white accents, and the males will show brighter colors than the females.