LIFE'S BETTER IN THE MOUNTAINS

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

It's Purple and it's a Finch

[LATE ENTRY NOTE: Because of some of the comments, especially from Zen Birdfeeder, and a new one from Lynne, I am putting this disclaimer. Watch for the comments on the next post. Wow! I have been watching Purple Finches all winter. (Sorry, Mary.) Word in from Kathi confirms it's a Purple Finch. Read her comment on the next post for a great explanation of why this is true.]

"Come here," he says several times a week. "That's one, isn't it? "No," I reply. "That isn't one either."

My husband desperately wants to see a purple finch. This year the house finches are amazingly rosy, perhaps from all the delicious berries around. They also vary a lot in depth of color, so each one looks a bit different. So each time one appears in the trees or at the feeder, my husband's hopes are raised once again. [New note, late entry: I have apparently been totally wrong in calling these birds House Finches. Poor guy, he's been seeing Purple Finches all along.]


Look at this group of messy birds. You would think they hadn't eaten in weeks.


Note that the siskin seems heavier than the finch.



Well, lady. I can't help it if you don't know the difference. Poop on you.




He goes about his eating and ignores me.
One bird is very easy to identify and there's no confusion. That's one of our mated Pileated Woodpeckers. This is Big Mama, checking out the trees for some tasty stuff.

I can't wait to see my husband's face when I respond, "Yes, dear. That's a Purple Finch."

19 comments:

Kallen305 said...

I have only had one purple finch come to my feeder once and that was a female. Love your pictures. And thank you for giving me my monthly pileated fix!! ;o)

KGMom said...

I like that bird feeder. Is it squirrel proof? That's my prime requirement these days.

Betsy from Tennessee said...

I've never seen a Purple Finch either, Carolyn. AND--we don't have any House Finches (at least not now). We had some in the fall, but the Siskins have taken over. We do have some Goldfinch--but not as many as we used to have.

What is the difference in a female and male Pileated????

Hope you have a good day.
Hugs,
Betsy

Cedar ... said...

I have that same look as the finch when i see siskens,...they are such little greedy birds. Cute as they are, they can empty a feeder in no time flat. Great shots of your feeder and dinner guests!

Mark said...

Our house finches are very vivid right now as well, but we've never had a purple finch at the feeders. And like you I'm also covered up with Pine Siskins at the moment, but we've still got quite a few house finches and goldfinches around. Altogether, they're eating 10 or 12 lbs of thistle seed a week!

Patsi said...

Your House Finch has much more red/purple than ours. Sure it's not a Purple one?
Siskins look alot like our Song Sparrows...maybe I'm ID-ing them wrong. Love the woodpecker.
Give me birds birds birds :)

Bird Girl said...

Gee..this doesn't look like either to me...it looks a bit like a male pine grosbeak? Check out Nick's picture here: http://saskbirding.blogspot.com/2007/12/pine-grosbeaks.html

I could be wrong - it is deceiving since we can't see the wings well.

Also - here are pictures of a house finch and a purple finch but the neat thing is a little tip they give - house finch color = strawberry juice. Purple finch color = raspberry juice. Cool!

http://www.mariewinn.com/marieblog/2009/01/strawberry-juice-vs-raspberry-juice.html

Love the pileated picture, too!!!

George said...

I'm glad all you lady birders are so patient when it comes to teaching husbands. We appreciate it!

CountryDreaming said...

What a delightful look at friendly (not to mention hungry) feathered winter visitors at the bird feeder! Love the expressiveness you captured in your photos. Purple Finches are few and far between for me too, sad to say.

scienceguy288 said...

Pileateds are huge birds. When I first saw them, I was absolutely amazed.

NCmountainwoman said...

Donna - Yes, it is squirrel proof. It has a trip that shuts off the feeder with too much weight. More importantly, it is too long for the squirrel to hang on the top by his feet and trip lightly with his paw while scooping food with the other. We found that to be a problem with a shorter trip feeder.

Betsy - The female Pileated has a black streak across the cheek beneath the bill. The streak in male is bright red.

Patsi - They are quite red right now. I've been told it is the abundance of red berries.

Bird girl - Based on size alone, the bird wasn't nearly large enough to be a Pine Grosbeak. That may be difficult to tell from the photograph. It had no gray at all; the contrasting colors were brown. It would also be extraordinarily rare to find a Pine Grosbeak in western NC right now.

Cheryl said...

I hope you do to, I for one, would love to see it......

Love the photos....some of the birds expressions are priceless......

The Zen Birdfeeder said...

I think you've got your Purple Finch. The overall coloration as well as the facial patterns. Find your husband and say the words, "Yes, dear, we DO have Purple Finches."

Don said...

ONE of your mated pileateds? You have an amazing wealth of birds. We still oogle when we see one, which is not often at all.

NCmountainwoman said...

Zen Birdfeeder - Thanks. I will indeed tell my husband. He will be thrilled for MANY reasons.

Don - Yes, we have a mated pair of Pileated Woodpeckers and delighted last year when they brought their two offspring to our suet feeder. What a sight to see all four of them on the tree.

Shellmo said...

Well it's a beautiful purple finch! It's so much easier when they are at the feeders at the same time as the house finch - then I have that "aha" moment!

fishing guy said...

Carolyn: It's wonderfyl that even with the great photos people are unsure. It sure looks like a Purple Finch to me and quite different from the House Finches I saw in Texas.

Jayne said...

I just remind myself that if I can see the creamy white with the raspberry on the breast, it's usually always a Purple Finch... and yours is beautiful Carolyn!

Vickie said...

It has taken me so long to catch up on blog reading after being severed from web service while visiting family out of town.

That is a very scarlet purple finch. Beautiful photos. I have read that finch coloration is influenced by the pigment in the foods they eat. At bit confusing when we expect to see that rasberry coloration in the males. Wonderful photos!

The pine siskins are slightly more petite than the finches with a more refined head. But when they fluff their feathers they can look pretty bulky. Enjoyed this discussion.