Monday, March 7, 2011

House Finches

In late December, there was a gathering of House Finches around the backyard feeders. The numbers thinned in January and February, but last week they were seen again at the feeders, although not yet in the numbers seen earlier. These photos were taken last December. More detailed information on House Finches can be found here.

During the winter, House Finches form medium to large flocks, often mixing with other small birds including American Goldfinches, Pine Siskins and House Sparrows. finches collage1
House Finches are aggressive enough to drive other birds away from the feeders.
Like all  other finches in its family, the House Finch is dichromatic by gender, which means that males and females are distinguishable by differences in color. And like many songbirds, the male house finch is the one that sports the colorful plumage.

Adult males vary in color from orange yellow to bright red. The color is derived from carotenoid pigments obtained from their diet of seeds, flowers, and fruits and added to the feathers during normal periods of feather replacement.

Studies have shown that brightly colored males are more successful at attracting mates than duller males (so what else is new?)
male finch collage2
Brightly colored males also survive the winter better – wonder why.
finchM 122810 (3)During courtship, the male will touch bills with the female and may then present the female with choice bits of food and, if she imitates the posture of a hungry chick, actually feed her. The male also feeds the female during the breeding and incubation of both eggs and young,and the male is the primary feeder of the fledglings.male finch collage1House finches are monogamous. The female will incubate a brood of 3-6 eggs for 12-14 days, and both parents feed the altricial (birds that hatch naked and blind, lacking any feathers) young for 12-19 days. A pair may raise 1-3 broods per year, with multiple broods more common in southern populations. (Altricial birds include most songbirds, including American robins, northern cardinals and blue jays.)
finch couple
Female House Finches have blurrier streaks and grayer undersides than their male counterparts.
finchF122810 (8)Originally residents of Mexico and the southwestern U.S., House Finches were introduced to eastern North America in the 1940s.
The eastern population is descended from cage birds released near NYC in the 1940s. The birds were sold illegally and marketed as “Hollywood Finches.”  To avoid prosecution under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918, vendors and owners released the birds.
female finch collage2
They quickly started breeding and spread across almost all of the eastern U.S. and southern Canada within the next 50 years.
female finch collage1


Anonymous said...

Beautiful bird and photographs!
We have a very similar bird over here called The Common Redpoll (Carduelis flammea) and the only time I can see it is during winter when a few comes to the bird feeders. They were also kept as caged birds here long ago until it was forbidden.

Have a great day now!

Lois Evensen said...

What lovely couples they make. Those guys make great husbands, don't they!

Out on the prairie said...

I see lots today at the feders, they are back.

Judy said...

Hi Beatrice,

Pretty little birdies!


Sandra said...

these are really super shots, those little house finches are really bright and beautiful, even the paler females. my question is, is there a finch that doesn't have a house? ha ha

grammie g said...

Hi Beatrice.. very nice your photos of one of my favorite colorful birds.
I haven't seen them in a couple of weeks ...they must gone down to see you!!

Anvilcloud said...

That was a fun post. Quite a while ago, we stuck at Plexiglas bird feeder on our window and these birds were the first to visit. We didn't know what they were at first.

Beatrice P. Boyd said...

Thanks Christer, Lois, Steve, Judy, Sandra, Grammig G, and AC for dropping in today. These colorful little birds are making their way back to our feeders after a couple months absence. The goldfinches never seemed to have left and are still around as well.

I'm trying to get emough good photos of juncos and chickadees to post about these species, but they are less likely to stay in one spot. But it's fun to keep trying! muchbut find them

The Retired One said...

Beautiful pictures of them and thanks for the interesting info. on them. They are little cuties.

Scott said...

I learned a lot about house finches today. We don't get them around here so that was interesting to read and view. Now if you'll excuse me I'm going to buy some bright red shirts and hats.

Daisy said...

Birds can be so entertaining to watch. Great pictures and collages, Beatrice. Very pretty! :)

Montanagirl said...

Very nice collages, and an informative post, too!

martymom said...

Hi Beatrice, I love the info you have given us. Learning about the birds is very interesting. By the way, we are sending the redwing black birds and grackles back to your yard. They ate all our bird food today. I wonder why Scott is going out to by red shirts and hats. H-m-m-m-m . . . Coud it be he is trying to attract someone?

Beatrice P. Boyd said...

Hi RETIRED ONE & SCOTT, learning about these little house finches was informative for me as well, so I wanted to share. I will be checking your blog in April, Scott, when you might return to color so I can check out your new duds!
Thanks DAISY & MONTANA Girl, glad you enjoyed them too.
Hey MARTY, when the unwelcome visitors are done at our place we'll be sure to send them right back to you 7 Bob.

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