What is the most famous bird that Charles Darwin studied?

And the answer: finches.
Photo credit: Francis C. Franklin

Galapagos finches came to be known as "Darwin’s finches," and inspired many of his ideas on evolution due to the shape of their beaks. There are 13 different species of Darwin’s finches, and they can only be found on the Galapagos islands.

Finches are among some of the most popular and widely kept birds in the world. The stunning displays of color found in wild finches and finch pets alike, these birds are small, personality-filled fliers who are sure to speak (or squawk) their mind. Interestingly, finches are also highly social animals, meaning they thrive in small flocks or with a partner. In general, finches actually tend to prefer their bird friends to their human ones— most finches do not like to be handled, and instead enjoy observation from a distance.

Finches are also among the smallest commonly kept bird species. These tiny fliers range from just 3 to 10 inches in length, and may weigh less than a single ounce. Yet, as they require the space to stretch their wings, finches require a similarly-sized cage to that of the larger parrot or parakeet.

Finches are an incredibly varied species of bird. In fact, the hundreds of finch species can be divided into four families: Fringillidae, Estrildidae, Ploceidae, and Passeridae. About 230 species can be found in the Fringillidae family, over 130 in the Estrildidae family, 150 or more in the Ploceidae family, and just over 30 in the Passeridae family. This means that there are at least 650 species of finch in the wild! Thankfully, though, not all of these species can be kept as pets— the Migratory Bird Treaty Act protects many species, such as the American goldfinch.

Learn more about these tiny, miraculous little birds here.      

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