The true finches are passerine birds in the family Fringillidae. They are predominantly seed-eating songbirds. Most are native to the Northern 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 or estrildid finches (family Passeridae, subfamily Estrildinae) 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 tanagers (Thraupidae).
Some species are being imported or smuggled into other countries and sold as exotic pets.
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