Test Your Knowledge

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By jwblackwell



9 Questions

What is the primary food source of finches?

Which of the following is NOT a member of the finch family?

What is the worldwide distribution of true finches?

What is the largest species of true finch?

What is the smallest species of true finch?

What is the primary use of finches and canaries in the coal mining industry?

How many subfamilies is the family Fringillidae divided into?

What is the primary diet of euphoniines?

Why has the taxonomy of the finch family been complicated?


Family of Birds: Finches

  • True finches are small to medium-sized passerine birds with stout conical bills adapted for eating seeds and nuts and often have colourful plumage.
  • They have a worldwide distribution except for Australia and the polar regions and occupy a great range of habitats where they are usually resident and do not migrate.
  • The family Fringillidae contains more than two hundred species divided into fifty genera. It includes species known as Canaries, siskins, redpolls, serins, grosbeaks and euphonias.
  • Many birds in other families are also commonly called "finches", including the Darwin's finches of the Galapagos islands, now considered members of the tanager family.
  • Finches and canaries were used in the UK, US and Canada in the coal mining industry to detect carbon monoxide from the eighteenth to twentieth century.
  • The taxonomy of the finch family, in particular the cardueline finches, has a long and complicated history.
  • The study of the relationship between the taxa has been confounded by the recurrence of similar morphologies due to the convergence of species occupying similar niches.
  • The family Fringillidae is divided into three subfamilies, the Fringillinae containing a single genus with the chaffinches, the Carduelinae containing 183 species divided into 49 genera, and the Euphoniinae containing the Euphonia and the Chlorophonia.
  • Fossil remains of true finches are rare, and those that are known can mostly be assigned to extant genera at least.
  • The smallest "classical" true finches are the Andean siskin and the lesser goldfinch. The largest species is probably the collared grosbeak, although larger lengths and weights have been recorded in slightly smaller species.
  • Finches are primarily granivorous, but euphoniines include considerable amounts of arthropods and berries in their diet.
  • The family Fringillidae contains 231 species divided into 50 genera and three subfamilies.


How much do you know about finches? Test your knowledge with our quiz on the family of birds known for their stout bills and colorful plumage. From their worldwide distribution to their use in the coal mining industry, this quiz will cover a variety of interesting facts about finches. See if you can identify the subfamilies and genera within the Fringillidae family and learn about their diet and habitat. Take the quiz now and see how much you know about these fascinating birds!

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