Weeds for House Finches

This bird was foraging in my backyard this past weekend.  I wasn’t sure what it was, but it seemed to be eating dandelion seeds.  What was it?

It flew away into the woods in the background, and then almost immediately this more colorful version flew in.  It is a House Finch which is a very common bird.  The first one was the female and the reddish one was the male.  House Finches do like to eat weed seeds on the ground, so I guess my backyard is halfway decent habitat for them!  I usually spend a little more effort removing dandelions from my lawn (by hand only), but this year I’ve decided to stop trying to control them.  On the down side, I’m going to have a lot more dandelions growing.  But the positives are that my yard will attract more birds and insects and other wildlife.

House Finches are very similar in appearance to Purple Finches.  How do I know this is a House Finch?  See the brown vertical streaks on the bird’s lower breast?  According to Birds of the Willamette Valley Region by Nehls, Aversa, and Opperman, Purple Finches don’t have them.

  1. Thanks for this—I should have known, but didn’t, that only the males are red. This tells me I was wrong when I wrote about a housefinch family in one of my recent blogposts. They had just fledged and were all lined up on the gutter being fed by their red FATHER, not their mother. Ooops!

    p.s. Did you hear the story on NPR’s Morning Edition yesterday about the pair of ospreys that have built a nest on the top arm of a construction crane and have halted a major construction project? Great story. Reminded me of your ospreys on the cell phone tower.

  2. We used to have these little guys when we lived in Springfield (same sort of lawn — not necessarily reasoned out as well as you have done, but it worked the same!). I thought they were purple finches from my bird book until someone told me that the latter didn’t live in that part of Oregon.

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