Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The House Finch

Now is the time of year when we see many baby birds at our feeders. Just this week a saw three different baby birds at my feeder in the back yard. One way you can tell they are baby birds, even though many are the same size as the parents , is that they flap their wings and open their mouths for the parents to feed them. 
 One of the babies I saw was a house finch. House finches are about 5 1/2 inches tall. The male has red on its head and upper breast and it has broad brown streaking on its lower breast and flanks. The female has a uniformly brown-streaked head and broad brown streaking on her breast and belly and her white undertail is usually streaked. They both have a short bill. They eat weed seeds, blossoms, fruits, buds and they love sunflowers at your feeder. If your hummingbird feeder is shaped so that this short billed bird can get into it they will also drink the nectar. 
 They make a nest of twigs, grasses, leaves, and debris in natural cavities such as foundation plantings, vines, hanging planters and occasionally birdhouses. They lay 2 to 6 eggs which are bluish white with speckles and have 1 to 3 broods a year. The babies are out of the nest and flying with the parents in about 12 to 16 days after the eggs are laid. 
 Sometimes in winter house finches form flocks and they are native to the western states. The house finch was introduced to the East in the New York City area in 1940 when pet dealers, being arrested for illegally selling House Finches as "Hollywood Finches" released the birds. Since then they have spread throughout the East and South. 
 Hope you see a baby bird at your feeder. Happy Spring. 

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