The Bird

Historically, I'd rate my interest in birds as pretty low. During my teen-aged years in San Antonio, the nocturnal Whip-poor-will always drew my attention because it was singing when other birds were not. Against the backdrop of the otherwise quiet night, the Whip-poor-will's clear song felt very special. (You can hear the Whip-poor-will's call on that same link, about halfway down the page.)

Aside from something as unique as that, I just hadn't been too intrigued. But about eight weeks ago, for the first time ever, I noticed a bird in the back yard that I had never seen before. Most of its plumage was a brownish-gray color but the head and upper chest of the small bird was exactly what I'd consider the color "strawberry." The contrast between the darker feathers and the head and the unusual, bright strawberry color made the bird look kind of technicolor.

So I did some searching and found out that this little bird is a House Finch. More specifically, it's a male house finch. Of course, unlike many humans, in bird society, the males are the ones who have to get all gussied up to attract the attention of the opposite sex. The female House Finch looks just like the male, though, just with those brownish-gray feathers instead of strawberry.

I also learned, from my research, that House Finches were first contained mostly within California. In the early 1900's, they were illegally shipped to New York as vogue sort of accessory pets. When the feds began to crack down on this illegal activity, the dealers opened the cage doors and set the birds into the wild. From then, the birds spread west-to-east and vice-versa and it looks they they reached West Virginia somewhere around the early 1980's.

Still, I hadn't seen them before two months ago. A few days after I saw that one single bird, and as I was getting into my van in the parking garage, I saw another one. This House Finch was sitting on the outer wall of the garage, right in front of my van. Shocked to see another one, I sat for about 15 minutes, listening to its song. And Mr. Finch sat and kept his one-sided conversation up until he finally hopped away to another part of the building.

So this was some sort of special connection I'd already developed with this gorgeous little species. After all, one shows up...then this other one sits and chats me up for such a long time. Right? Exactly. The next day, I realized that Mr. Finch was probably bitching me out for being so close to his little house tucked up in the beam of the garage near my van. This time, when he saw me coming, he darted right for the nest. I hadn't seen it before. That's okay. Maybe he's just not that into me.

Nonetheless, here's the most accurate-sounding recording of the House Finch song I've found. Once I heard the House Finch song, I recognize it every morning outside the window. The habitat expansion must be going well!

1 comment:

Jennifer said...

I don't usually dig birds, but I must say that's a cute picture of that little strawberry-colored fella, and he makes a cute little tweedly sound, too.