Saturday, January 7, 2017

watch for the raspberry ones

OK. We are snowed in today. Watch your feeders for one of my favorite birds: purple finches. They're attracted to black oil sunflower seeds.

Wow, how I love this colorful bird, but they are only in the valley in winter and very irregularly at that. It's been a few years since I saw one at home or the nature center. I took the above photo a few years ago at Ijams. 

Needless to say, they really are not purple but softer shades of pink and raspberry, like a rosé wine from the Provence region of France. Joie de vivre. And that describes this beautiful creature. Although only the he birds are so hued, the she birds dress in browns. (Yes, real guys can wear pink.) And the females are attracted to the most intensely colorful males. The drab boys may have to sit this breeding season out and the quality of color is controlled by the diet the year before. 

Purple finches nest much farther to the north: Great Lakes into New England and Southern Canada and they only migrate this far south some winters to find food. This snowfall appears to be more south of us and it takes a good snow fall to the north, Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania to drive purple finches to us. But let me know if you see them.  

And don't confuse them with the far more common house finch

For them the males are more cherry red and it's frontal not behind the head. And the streaks down the sides are brown (note photo at left), not the lovely raspberry streaks of the purple finch. 


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