Sunday, March 21, 2010

Worth a second look.

House Finches are among the commonest birds of local suburbia. They frequent feeders, often in small groups, and nest in ornamental conifers and hanging baskets. They do pretty well here and pay the rent with cheerful song.

Thus it seems odd to see one all alone out at the edge of a marsh. A closer look and the discrepancy is explained. This female, who is munching on the remains of last year's Pacific crab apple crop, is a chunkier, larger-headed bird with more distinct facial markings, bolder streaking on the body, and a clearly notched tail. Alone, at water's edge, far from human habitation. She isn't a House Finch, but rather the much more seldom-seen (at least for me) Purple Finch.

It's one of those birds that you know should be around, but easy to overlook with jaded suburban eyes.


Karen said...

I think your eyes are probably the least jaded in suburbia. Female birds are hard for most of us to ID, with their tendency to lack the color the species is named for. Good catch!

KaHolly said...

What an exciting discovery! I had a pair pass through and snack at my feeder the other day! I get excited when I pass by the window and out of the corner of my eye I notice there's someone different visiting! Today's excitement was the first killdeer of the season, flying over the meadow, announcing his arrival. ~karen

Hugh said...

Greenwalks Karen, Thanks. Sometimes it's what the bird is doing that makes one look closer.

KaHolly Karen, Killdeer are recently back here too. Soon the rest of the gang should be straggling through. (It tends to be more protracted, less dramnatic than in the east.)

Anonymous said...

I am still hopeless at identifying little brown stripey females, so good for you!

Kimberly said...

Great eye, Hugh! But don't be so ready to dismiss the house finch either, with their beautiful color and pretty song. I was quite used to them in the midwest, but never see them since I moved to Florida.