Sunday, December 19, 2010

Purple Finches

It has been an incredibly cold and wet end of fall these past couple of weeks. I've stood by the sliding glass door in the dining room and counted the types of birds coming to the  feeder. So far, I've had cardinals, house finches, dark-sided juncos, goldfinches, mourning doves, blue jays, bluebirds, downy woodpeckers, red-bellied woodpeckers, Savannah sparrows, song sparrows and Carolina wrens among the daily visitors to the small garden.

How small is the garden, you ask. Well, for those of you who are familiar with Marie Viljoen and her blog, the garden area is about the same size as her terrace. I do have a patio where I have a few container plants which adds an area of 20 x 10 to the small garden. But I don't have any feeders on the patio.

At breakfast this morning, I added a couple more birds to the list above; an Eastern Towhee and a couple of Purple Finches. No pictures of the towhee but some slightly out-of-focus snapshots of the purple finches next to a house finch.

People have a tendency to confuse house finches with purple finches. House finches do have a rosy to purple color, but as you can see from the photos (sorry for the reflection from the sliding glass door), the purple finch is really purple, plus they are quite stocky compared to the house finch. But, according to the Cornell University website, they are losing out to house finches in territory. This, in fact, is the first time I've seen purple finches at the feeders in the eight years I've lived here.

These next three pictures really illustrate the behavior that All About Birds' website describes:

Aggressive Purple Finches show their agitation by leaning toward their opponent, neck stretched out and bill pointed at the other bird. This can intensify to standing upright, opening the beak or pointing it downward at opponent, and sometimes results in actual pecking attacks.

The two birds, center and left, are purple finches and the one on the right is a house finch.


andrea said...

I have a terrible time identifying finches as they are fairly rare in my garden. While in a different region, though, I saw these (male and female I'm guessing plus grosbeak) and eventually decided they were Cassin's Finches (not sure why -- it was 7 months ago). I've posted a close-up of them temporarily here so I can get your opinion:

Karen said...

Andrea: As you can tell from my misidentification over at Flickr, my birding abilities leave a lot to be desired. But I trust the Cornell U.'s website and it is a terrific resource for us novice birders.

andrea said...

Oh good -- I'm glad you saw my response over at Flickr. I was hoping I hadn't removed the photo (it was a detail of another) prematurely! And thanks for putting me onto Cornell's website!