A change of heart regarding House Finches

Photo by Chris Bosak A House Finch eats buds from a bush in Norwalk, Conn., Feb. 2015.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A House Finch eats buds from a bush in Norwalk, Conn., Feb. 2015.

I almost hate to admit it on this site, but I’ve never been a big fan of House Finches. Sure they are wild birds and look pretty with their reddish-pink feathers. But their eating habits at bird-feeding stations have long been a bone of contention with me. They perch on the feeder and gorge themselves for minutes on end. I prefer the grab-a-seed-and-go method employed by backyard favorites such as chickadees, titmice, and nuthatches. Come back as often as you need, as far as I’m concerned, but grab and go. Leave space and time for others.

But not House Finches.They fly in, perch, and sit there. Seed after seed goes into their belly and there they sit. Meanwhile, the chickadees and nuthatches sit on nearby branches waiting for a spot to open. House Finches aren’t even supposed to be in New England. They were introduced from California as a pet and established a wild population.

House Finches are not alone in this feeding behavior, of course. Some “good birds” (like cardinals) do it and some birds that many people considering “not so good” (like House Sparrows) do it, too. And the bane of all those who feed birds in the backyard, squirrels, feed like that.

Imagine someone at a buffet restaurant just standing there by the food gorging himself without filling a plate and sitting down.

“Excuse me, sir, can I get a little mashed potatoes, please?”

“Get outta here, I’m eating them now! You can get some when I’m damn good and ready. If there’s any left, that is!”

That was my impression of House Finches.

But the other day I had a little change of heart regarding House Finches. I sat in the lot at work eating my lunch strategically parked in front of a long row of bushes — forsythia I think, it’s hard to tell in the winter. Sure enough, a House Finch perched on a branch just off to the left side of my car. At first I kept on eating my lunch, uninterested in the finch. Then it started to eat the little buds, or whatever they were, off the bushes. I instantly started to like House Finches a little more. Sure they hog space at the feeder, but they also fend for themselves when it comes to food. It’s known that only a small percentage of a bird’s diet comes from backyard feeders, but that’s hard to believe when you watch a House Finch perched on a feeder gorging itself.

So it’s true that House Finches find food in the natural world, too. I saw proof of it the other day. Maybe they aren’t so bad after all.

Photo by Chris Bosak A House Finch eats buds from a bush in Norwalk, Conn., Feb. 2015.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A House Finch eats buds from a bush in Norwalk, Conn., Feb. 2015.

 

Photo by Chris Bosak A House Finch eats buds from a bush in Norwalk, Conn., Feb. 2015.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A House Finch eats buds from a bush in Norwalk, Conn., Feb. 2015.

Advertisements

3 thoughts on “A change of heart regarding House Finches

  1. They aren’t as big of gorging pigs as Doves or Blue Jays. House Finches in my area are infected with Mycoplasmal conjunctivitis and find feeder food easier to see and find in later stages.
    Also, I don’t have a problem with squirrels…There is a “no varmint” sign at the feeders…..

    Like

    • Thanks for the comment. It’s been a while since I’ve seen a House Finch with conjunctivitis, but I’ve seen several in the past. Cornell Lab of Ornithology is still tracking the disease. Thanks again for writing.

      Like

  2. Afraid I have to disagree. Although I love birds, I simply loathe the incessant noise of the male house finch. I would gladly direct them to your neighborhood.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s