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New World Finches: Emberizidae

Physical Characteristics, Behavior And Reproduction, Song Sparrow (melospiza Melodia): Species Accounts, Snow Bunting (plectrophenax Nivalis): Species AccountsGEOGRAPHIC RANGE, HABITAT, DIET, NEW WORLD FINCHES AND PEOPL

SONG SPARROW (Melospiza melodia): SPECIES ACCOUNTS
SNOW BUNTING (Plectrophenax nivalis): SPECIES ACCOUNTS
BLUE-BLACK GRASSQUIT (Volatinia jacarina): SPECIES ACCOUNTS
SAVANNA SPARROW (Passerculus sandwichensis): SPECIES ACCOUNTS

New World finches range throughout the world, except for the interior of Greenland, far Southeast Asia, New Guinea, Australia, and Madagascar. They have been introduced in New Zealand.


New World finches live in open and semi-open bushy or grassland areas, forest edges, tundra, prairies and meadows, deserts, hilly meadows, salt and freshwater marshes, and oak and pine woods.

Diet consists mostly of seeds, berries, fruits, and other vegetation, but often switches to protein-rich insects when birds are feeding their young. Many birds feed near the ground, scratching away leaf litter to find food. Its conical bill is adapted to pick up seed shells and take out seeds.


People often keep New World finches as pets in order to enjoy their beautiful songs. They are beneficial in agricultural communities because they eat many insects.

Six species of emberizids are listed as Critically Endangered, facing an extremely high risk of extinction; seven species are listed as Endangered, facing a very high risk of extinction; nine species are listed as Vulnerable, facing a high risk of extinction; and two species are listed as Near Threatened, in danger of becoming threatened with extinction.

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceBirds