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Biology Of Cardueline Finches, Cardueline Finches In North America, Cardueline Finches Elsewhere, Fringillinae Finches

Finches are species of arboreal, perching birds that make up the large, widespread family, the Fringillidae. There are three subfamilies in this group, the largest being the Carduelinae or cardueline finches, a geographically widespread group that contains about 122 species. The subfamily Fringillinae or fringillid finches consists of three species breeding in woodlands of Eurasia, while the Drepanidinae or Hawaiian honeycreepers (which are sometimes treated as a separate family, the Drepanididae) are 23 species of native tropical forests on the Hawaiian Islands.

Species of finches occur in North and South America, Africa, Europe, and Asia. In addition, a few species have been introduced beyond their natural range, to Australasia.

Species of finches can occur in a wide range of habitats, including desert, steppe, tundra, savannas, woodlands, and closed forests. Finches that breed in highly seasonal, northern habitats are migratory, spending their non-breeding season in relatively southern places. A few other northern species wander extensively in search of places with abundant food, and breed there. Other species of more southerly finches tend to be residents in their habitat.

It should be noted that in its common usage, the word "finch" is a taxonomically ambiguous term. Various types of seed-eating birds with conical bills are commonly referred to as finches, including species in families other than the Fringillidae. For example, the zebra finch (Taeniopygia guttata) of Asia is in the waxbill family, Estrildidae, and the snow finch (Montifringilla nivalis) is in the weaver-finch family, Ploceidae. The "typical" finches, however, are species in the family Fringillidae, and these are the birds that are discussed in this entry.

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