Wednesday, January 2, 2013
House Finch...Haemorhous mexicanus
This is my favorite of Tom's recent male House Finch photos although the next one shows the red on the rump better.
In the 1980s when Tom and I began seriously watching birds, this was one of the first "new" birds that we came across. There were lots of them at our feeder. And it was one we didn't know existed. Birding friends explained why our parents had never pointed out this bird. It wasn't in Ohio when we were children.
I found more information in Birds of Ohio, a field guide by James S. McCormac and Gregory Kennedy with contributions from Chris Fisher and Andy Bezener. In 1940, the finches were released in Long Island, New York where they had been kept as cage birds. They are native to western North America. They expanded locally in New York and began spreading . They were first detected in Ohio in 1964. That was the year our daughter was born, the second of our three children and we were not spending time watching birds. They had colonized the entire state by the 1980s and that was when Tom and I noticed them.
Uncommon in Ohio, but sometimes here in the winter, there is a similar looking bird, the Purple Finch. Usually, the females are found with both species and this is helpful to the birder since it is easier for many people to distinguish between the females than the males. The Purple Finch female has definite markings. As you can see from the next two photos, the House Finch female is as nondescript as a L-B-J (Little Brown Job) can be.