House Finch

House Finch (Carpodacus mexicanus)

The House Finch (Carpodacus mexicanus) is native to the southwestern United States and Mexico.  According to BirdWeb, they prefer edge habitat and have followed human alterations and agricultural expansion.  They arrived in western Washington in the 1950's and are now common throughout the state.  In 1940, caged birds from the illegal pet trade were released in New York.  This became a source of territory increase in the East.  Bird lovers may have also played a role in their expansion.  House Finch distribution is apparently associated with the presence of bird feeders.  They outcompete Washington's natives, Purple and Cassin's Finches, and are the major cause of the Purple Finch's decline in western Washington.  American Goldfinches, our state bird, do not seem to be similarly affected.

iBird tells us that a group of House Finches is known as a "development."  Male House Finches bear the rosy colorations...


These colors are due to diet and as with Flamingos, I assume are caused by beta-carotene.  Since the females must eat the same diet as males, I could not find an explanation why their feathers are not similarly colored.  Does the old "hormone excuse" come into play?  Full coloration comes in the second year.  There is also a yellow variant, and this fellow may be a first season example...


But the rosy-hued males are far more common...


Even without the colors of the male, female House Finches are also attractive little birds...

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