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Posts Tagged ‘Haemorhous mexicanus’

This is the first year that I have really noticed how many different birds work to extract the seeds from the spiky seedpods of the sweetgum tree. In the past month I have done postings featuring chickadees and goldfinches. Today I am spotlighting a beautiful House Finch (Haemorhous mexicanus) that I spotted on Tuesday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge.

The brilliant red color on the finch’s head and shoulders seems so perfect for the season as many of us prepare to celebrate Christmas. I initially thought that the bird’s large conical beak was buried in the the seed ball, but was happy to see that it is visible. The finch uses that powerful beak to crack open all kinds of seeds as it engages in nature’s own nutcracker suite.

Merry Christmas to those celebrating Christmas and happy holidays and best wishes to all in this joyous season. “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” (Luke 2:14)

House Finch

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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When I caught a glimpse of the body of this bird at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge last week, I initially thought it was some kind of sparrow. However, even though I was shooting into the light, I could see that its head was read. What could it possibly be?

Some experts in a Facebook birding forum informed me that it is an immature male House Finch (Haemorhous mexicanus). According to Wikipedia, this species was originally only a resident of Mexico and the southestern United States. It was introduced to eastern North America in the 1940s when the birds were sold illegally in New York City as “Hollywood Finches.” To avoid prosecution under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918, vendors and owners released the birds into the wild and they have since become naturalized in largely unforested land across the eastern U.S.

House Finch

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Today I decided to feature two of the smallest birds that I spotted in the trees in my neighborhood after our recent snowfall. The first one is a Tufted Titmouse (Baeolophus bicolor), a little bird that is in the same family as the chickadee. The second one, I believe, is a House Finch (Haemorhous mexicanus), a bird that I don’t recall having seen before. I was really drawn to its red coloration and learned from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology website that the red of a male House Finch comes from pigments contained in its food during molt (birds can’t make bright red or yellow colors directly).

tufted titmouse

housefinch

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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