Monday, April 23, 2012

More About Finches

Last week I was speculating about the possibility of an inter-species romance in my front yard -- based on a photo I took of a male Goldfinch and a female Pine Siskin apparently hanging out together.  The two species are closely related, and interbreeding, producing hybrid offspring, is known to occur (thought not very often).  The idea set me off on a small quest for information about hybridization, avian genetics and finches.  I found some interesting stuff, but not necessarily what I was looking for.  I still have a lot of questions about inter-species matches:  How do they happen?  Why do they happen?  And so on.

But, in regards to the birds in my front yard -- at least the one's I was writing about specifically -- those questions might be moot.  Because, this past weekend, I took these photos in my front yard.

This is my male Goldfinch -- looking at the molting spots on his back and neck I was pretty sure that he was the same bird I photographed last week.  He was in the Cherry tree. 

As and aside, the Cherry Tree came into bloom this weekend, and it was busy with birds.  Even the most familiar birds look fresh in that setting.

Also hanging out in the Cherry Tree was my resident House Finch.  He actually has a small part in this story, which I'll get back to later.

The House Finch couple are one of my favorites to watch, because they sing to each other.  I understand that in most songbirds species, the singing is done by the male, but the House Finches clearly sing back and forth -- even if you can only see one of them, you can hear the response of the mate each time they sing.  It is very sweet. 

Which brings us back to the Goldfinches.  The male Goldfinch and the male House Finch were frequently in view together. 

 However, I also spotted this pretty sight in the tree.  Clearly, a female Goldfinch.

Still, there have been a number of Goldfinches around this spring, and just because she's visiting the cherry tree at the same time as my mottled male doesn't mean they're an item.  Right?

But consider this:

Here we see the Male House Finch together with both Goldfinches -- and they sure do look like a couple don't they?  I observed them for quite a while this weekend, and I think it's pretty clear that the male Goldfinch has, indeed, found himself a species appropriate mate.  I wouldn't worry too much about the Pine Siskin though -- there are plenty of males of her species around for her to hook up with.

One final shot.  Even thought you can't see all four of the birds clearly here, this is both Finch Couples on the feeder together, like Couples Night Out. The female House Finch is in the back.  It seemed like they were all having a pleasant Saturday night in the front yard.

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