Saturday, January 21, 2012

House Finch

Today I saw my first house finch of the year. The house finch, Carpodacus mexicanus, is supposedly a native, year-round resident of this area, but I have commonly only seen them in the spring and summer.  I put out fresh birdseed today and noticed a single male this afternoon.

House finches seem to be city birds in this area, as their name would indicate.  I have never seen them in the nearby forest or mountains.  They are one of the most common birds to come to bird feeders around the country, according to numerous sources, and have been introduced throughout the east coast.

After having his snack, today's finch settled into the shrubbery, fluffed out his feathers and had a bit of a rest. 

Male house sparrows generally have red heads, chests and rumps, but they can occasionally be yellow or orange like this yellowish one I spotted on a gray day last year.   As in any red or yellow-colored bird, the pigment is not innate to the feathers but is obtained from carotenoids in a diet of seeds and fruit, with the females (according to seeming to prefer brighter red males.  Robert S. Woods quoted on reported that these birds, also called linnets, may need several years to develop the brighter red plumage.  So this yellow fellow may be a youngster that may yet get his chance to be red!

House finches are often seen with other species of birds, but can be aggressive about their food.  I have seen these finches chase pine siskins off of my feeder.  The solo finch today was with a few male house sparrows who he seemed to be tolerating.  I guess their company was better than no company!

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