Behavior

Finches may occur as solitary pairs, particularly during the breeding season, but most species are at least seasonally

An American goldfinch (Carduelis tristis) pair at their nest. (Photo by Anthony Mercieca. Photo Researchers, Inc. Reproduced by permission.)

gregarious, particularly when not breeding. Finches are strong fliers, and ground-foraging species hop and run well over short distances. Species that breed in regions with a highly seasonal climate, such as the tundra, boreal, or temperate zones, are often migratory during the winter. Some species migrate over relatively long distances to warmer climates, while others form flocks and wander extensively looking for locally abundant food sources. Finches have short, sharp call notes to communicate within flocks and to warn of impending danger. They also have distinctive songs that males use to defend a breeding territory and attract a mate. Young male finches have an innate ability to learn the song of their species, but when young they must hear mature males singing in order to learn how to perfect their own song. Widespread species of finches may have local song dialects. Some finches, such as the canary, are kept as prized pets because of their enthusiastic and musical singing ability.

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