How the House Finch Got His Color
Some weekend mornings, when I’m not on the trail at first light, I like to grab my camera and a cup of coffee, and just sit still out in the yard. I’ve been amazed at what I have seen, and captured, just a few steps from my front door. This past Sunday, I was distracted by my neighbor’s tree—a flowering plum tree I believe—that was in full bloom. The entire tree was bursting out in pinks and reds, with the morning sunshine coming in low and hitting the tree straight on. So, I walked just a few steps more and discovered several House Finches, mixed in among, and munching on, the new blossoms. Of course, I see a dozen House Finches each morning, eating from my feeders and darting from my pines to my aspens. Doubtless, they are one of the top two or three most common birds I see out in the yard. I see another handful on my way into work, as they seem to favor the tall trees just outside the coffee shop, where I stop for my morning caffeine. I see them, and hear their songs, just about everywhere I go these spring days, so, I suppose, I’ve started taking them for granted. But I have never seen a House Finch more suited to its surroundings than this male. He blended well into the colorful backdrop, with his bright reds playing off the sunlit pinks of the plum blossoms and the more profound reds of the new leaves. The streaks on his chest even matched, somewhat, the sun-spattered patterns on the branches behind him. If I were ever to start a folk legend, it would be this: that the male House Finch gets his red color from the pigment in the plum blossoms that he eats each spring.
Male House Finch; Los Alamos, New Mexico
NatureWildlifeBirdsCommon BirdsFinchHouse FinchLos AlamosNew Mexico