Eye Candy

House Finch male (Haemorhous mexicanus)

The House Finch is a West Coast native that’s spread nationwide. It’s had human help. Entrepreneurs caged the birds in Mexico and shipped them to New York in the 1940s for sale as decorative house pets. When that was made illegal, they turned the birds loose, expecting them to perish in the harsh climate. Didn’t happen. The birds proved resilient. They not only survived, they spread, soon covering the East Coast all the way to the Mississippi. That’s proof that this little ball of feathers is more than eye candy. This individual wasn’t singing yet but he soon will be. Mating season is here, and before very long we may see flocks of dozens, sometimes a hundred or more, feeding in the tall grasses and herbs, where the mowers have not leveled them. House finch parents are unusual among birds in that they feed their chicks only vegetable matter, not insects. Chicks of other species need the protein to survive, but House Finch offspring do just fine on a vegetarian diet.

House Finch male (Haemorhous mexicanus)

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