Monday, May 18, 2009

House Finches

Two male and one female House Finch
Carpodacus mexicanus
As Mr. Rogers said, "It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood!" Just watching the sun play on things, the blue sky, and the little birds going about their business is a pleasure.

The three birds in the pictures are regulars this time of year. I'm never 100% sure if they are House Finches or Purple Finches but have decided to pick one and the H.F. wins on the process of elimination of visual traits.

Finches share many similar things: their jerky bouncy undulating flight, their full songs, size, and migration patterns. I say similar because they do each have their own particular traits. Unlike the New Jersey Audubon Society's members' annual competition to identify the most birds in twenty-four hours (229 was the winner this year), I am always discovering something new and learning.
The male House Finch has a brown cap but the front of his head, bib and rump are typically red (sometimes orange or occasionally yellow.) The bib is clearly set off from the streaked underparts. They are about six inches long and rather thin looking.

The adult female and juveniles are brown-streaked overall.
They have a lively high-pitched song. Unlike the serious "bird identifiers", I have not become sophisticated enough to identify the different finches by sound only.

The House Finch is abundant in this area, enjoying year-round habitation over most of the continental United States and down throughout Mexico. It was introduced in the East in the 1940's but rapidly expanded west, especially towns.

Finches are seed eaters which explain why I have the opportunity for numerous sightings at my sunflower seed feeder.
They do not fight other finches or sparrows for territory or time on the feeder. They will scatter away when one of the feeder-bullies lands.

They may not be as colorful as the Indigo Bunting or Goldfinch, but they are a little bit of bright happiness in their own way.

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