Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Colourful finches

Gold finches and purple finches enjoy a variety of seed.
Little finches, goldfinches, purple finches and house finches (which are not native to Canada) frequent my feeders year round.

This year there are about a hundred small birds that come in a flock and choose one, two or three of the feeders. Mostly they are goldfinches and about two dozen chickadees, some American tree sparrows and a few white breasted nuthatches.

Of course there are tons of woodpeckers choosing the suet (hopefully) rather than my wooden church. Periodically I have someone "knocking" on the side of the building. But of course if the dogs aren't barking and the sound is up high, I know its a pesky woodpecker.
A purple finch awaits its turn at the feeder
As for purple finches, there were two pairs this year at my feeder during the transition between fall and winter. However I haven't seen any since the snow began to fall.

These photographs are from two years ago.

Purple finches are scarce all over Ontario this winter, I've heard. They face a huge problem, they are competing for habitat and food with the introduced and plentiful species - house finches. And not successfully as their numbers are dwindling.

House finches, not as deeply rose coloured as their native brethren - my father used to say purple finches look like someone has dipped them head first into raspberry jam - have multiplied. I've heard that they are descended from finches that were brought to North America in the 18th and 19th centuries as caged birds for wealthy families. These caged birds escaped into the towns and countryside and have thrived.

But finches travel together no matter whether they are native or introduced. The purple finches that visit my feeder are often in the company of two or three pairs of house finches along with the ever present goldfinches. It's great fun trying to tell them apart sometimes.

So on this snowy, blowy, very chilly morning, I look for purple finches and am very pleased that there are lots of goldfinches and other little birds, but miss the lovely rosy colour of the purple finch. I hope they return in spring.

What do you look for at the first signs of spring?


  1. I look for flowers and butterflies! I can't wait to see them back. IT is one of my favorite things to photograph :)

  2. Loved your flower and butterfly photograph yesterday - so great.... you are a true nature lover my friend... your photographs prove it - as well as a church lover and lover of architecture of all kinds. Thanks so much for stopping by my blog. Always love to read your comments.