Thursday, August 11, 2011

Success at last! (Sort of)

After spending most of the summer looking for them, I finally spotted a juvenile House Finch this week.  I thought I had seen him twice before, but I didn't get a good enough look or any photos to confirm it.  Then, Sunday morning, there he was.

If you read my blog occasionally you probably know that the adult House Finches have been regular guests here throughout the year.  I was pretty sure that they were nesting nearby, and was hoping to see fledglings before the summer was done.  House Finches sometimes nest late in the summer -- in fact, they can sometimes produce two broods in a season -- but as weeks went by I began to worry that I'd missed them, or they weren't going to show this year.

So you can imagine my excitement when I finally spotted this guy.  His nascent coloring identifies him as a male, in the transitional stage to adult plumage.  I was sure that I'd finally found my Finch couple's kids.

House Finch Couple
Only, it's not quite that simple.  According to my naturalist friend, Kevin, House Finches only molt once a year, and since this guy is transitioning, the chances are he's one of last year's fledglings.  House Finches don't migrate; they stay here all year round, so it's entirely possible that he's from the same family.  Possible, but not guaranteed.  Kevin gave me a quick lesson in the family dynamics of House Finches.  Unlike many songbirds, they form new pair bond's each breeding season -- the couple I've been observing may not have been together last year, and may not pair up next year.  Also, young birds disperse, immigrating to new areas and emigrating in from other areas to mix up the gene pool.  All my House Finch friends could be from one family, or they could be totally unrelated.  Short of inviting them in for a DNA test, it's very hard to be sure. 

Still, the juvenile House Finch was on my wish list this year, and I got to see one at last.

If you like Birdland West, you might also want to check out our sister blog Books and Beasts, which focuses on reviews of books about animals and related topics.

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1 comment:

  1. Glad you were able to find one! I saw some much earlier in the summer and they were pretty cute. Loud, but cute.