Whose Finch?

Handsome Male House Finch

Naming a bird House seems wrong.  And because it’s a commonplace urban bird, the House Finch might seem a little boring.  But consider House Finch social life.  The rather plain female keeps her colorful mate very occupied with making her happy.  At breeding season, she assesses potential partners and looks approvingly on males with the brightest coloring. 

The male has been working hard to make himself attractive. He’s in tip top shape, and has been feasting heavily on berries and fruits with strong pigmentation. These give him the brilliant red or yellow feathers that make a female sing.  She’s looking for the healthiest, best-looking guy, surely most capable of helping her raise her young.   

If her glance lingers on him, the male breaks out in fluttering flight displays and persistent song.  When she’s properly impressed, she starts right in on house hunting, touring the area for potential nests sites.  The male flutters madly after her, singing with joy.

The nest might be a remodel of an old nest, or a nest pre-owned by another species.  The couple might consider a cavity nest, or build new. 

The male can’t be complacent at this point.  He must guard his mate during egg laying and incubation and bring her the tastiest morsels of her favorite foods.  Otherwise, she may abandon the nest and look for another mate!  Both parents feed the hatchlings regurgitated seeds or vegetable matter.  These birds eat very few or no insects. 

The bright clear notes of the House Finch song string together like colorful beads.  At this time of year, it’s a beautiful backdrop to our mornings.  The House Finch is native to desert canyons of the West, where they live near water sources. Our backyard fountain is visited by a parade of the birds.

Back in 1940 some captive House Finches were put in a pet shop in New York City.  But the rascals escaped and took up urban life.  Now the clever and endearing House Finch can be found in city parks throughout the east as well as the west. 

Below see the female House Finch and various colors on males, depending on what they ate during the molt before breeding season.

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