Monday, June 8, 2015

House Finch

If you were born before the decade of the 60's and lived in the Eastern United States, it is likely you never saw these birds growing up. Living in Southern New England, I know I didn't. Once they did start appearing, it seemed like they were everywhere, like sparrows.

House Finches were originally indigenous to Mexico and the Western U. S. They were shipped to pet dealers in the New York area in the 1940's and sold as "Hollywood Finches." Some were intentionally released when pet stores tried to avoid prosecution for having them illegally. They proliferated in the wild and soon increased their territory to the point where they can be found throughout the U. S. The male is on the left and the female on the right.

They are monogamous and do not migrate. They are very prolific and, because they do not migrate, get a jump start on the breeding season. This year, they started nesting in March, but last year, they began nesting in February! Last year, this pair produced three broods; this year, they are already on their second clutch — and it is only early June!

They do seem to be good parents. The female will actually build her nests, stacked one upon another. Last year, they were stacked three high. She will commonly have five or six eggs per clutch. They like the porch because it is out of the rain. She has a preference for an artificial hanging plant.

Dandelion seeds are among some of the
most favored seeds to feed the young.

I'm not sure if the male feeds her while she is setting, but if I disturb her by having to do something over on the side porch, she will take the opportunity to fly off to the feeder for a quick snack. Both parents participate in feeding the chicks and staying with them once they have fledged.

It isn't very long before the chicks are testing their wings and wanting to get out of the nest.

The parents continue to feed the babies after they have fledged. They are one of the few birds that feed their babies entirely plant matter. They don't feed them any bugs or worms like many other bird species do.

Before you know it, they are empty nesters
and begin the process all over again.

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