The true finches are passerine birds in the family Fringillidae. They are predominantly seed-eating songbirds. Most are native to Southern Hemisphere, but one subfamily is endemic to the Neotropics, one to the Hawaiian Islands, and one subfamily – monotypic at genus level – is found only in the Palaearctic. The scientific name Fringillidae comes from the Latin word fringilla for the Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs) – a member of that last subfamily – which is common in Europe.

Many birds in other families are also commonly called "finches", including some species in the very similar-looking waxbills (family Estrildidae) of the Old World tropics and Australia; several groups of the bunting and American sparrow family (Emberizidae); and Darwin's finches of the Galapagos islands, which provided evidence of natural selection and are now recognized to be peculiar tangers (Thraupidae).


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