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Feeder Finches

Finch?

This house finch made me laugh. I can imagine him saying, “Hey, guys! Over here!” (It’s just one of the many ways I entertain myself—thinking about what birds might say.)

It wasn’t long before several of his friends rushed over, so I guess they heeded the message.

Female House Finch

House finches are native to the American southwest. We might not see them in the east at all if not for some unethical pet shop owners in New York City. In the early 1900s, these merchants who were selling the birds illegally, released them into the wild to avoid penalties. The house finch quickly began to establish itself in the East. Now they’re as common here as in the West, unfortunately displacing our native purple finch as they expand their range.

It’s interesting to note that east coast house finches are all more closely related to each other than to the west coast birds. Male coloration is usually red, but there is a yellow variant believed to be due to diet rather than genetics. Hawaii has more birds with this variation than the continent does.

Male House Finch

As is often the case, the camera picked up details that this bird watcher’s eye missed. Namely, a very dirty feeder! How could I not have noticed that before I took the pictures? A timely newsletter from Birdhouse on the Greenway (a wonderful store, if you’re in the Charlotte area), suggested cleaning our rain-soaked feeders right away. Just empty all the seed out—dig it out if it’s especially mushy—and put the feeders into a bucket of water with about a half cup of vinegar for a while. After soaking, scrub them out, let them dry in the sun, and refill them with fresh, clean seed. It’s a simple task that makes the feeders healthier for the birds—and more attractive in photos!

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