Sunday, April 27, 2008

Adding to the Menagerie

A new visitor has appeared at the feeders with a vengeance: Cassin's finches. At first, they appear similar to the common house finches, but they have several distinct characterisitics that help with their identification. While house finches have a red forehead and red wash along their buff chests, Cassin's finches have a much brighter, more sharply defined red forehead and crown, while the red wash on their chests is less noticeable. House finches are streaked along their bellies, while Cassin's finches are not, though Cassin's finches have stronger, sharper markings along their backs, particularly the females.

Behavior-wise, the Cassin's finches appear to prefer platform or ground feeding with equal abandon, though they don't much care for the narrow tube finch feeders that the house finches happily balance on. Cassin's finches are also bolder and less skittish than many other of the backyard species currently enjoying my buffet, and they get along relatively well with other species, demonstrating less of the aggressive, territorial behavior some other birds exhibit.

There appears to be at least four pairs of Cassin's finches that have discovered my backyard sanctuary, and they're all welcome. According to my birding resources, the better the food supply the more that will attend, so in days to come there may be quite a flock present. The more the merrier!

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