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Saturday, January 28, 2012

Jan 28; House Finches

House Finch
House Finch

One kind of bird that almost everyone in north Texas has seen, but few know by name, is the House Finch.

Its head and often part of the body are red (these are the males) so the House Finch is often erroneously called a "redbird". The females are not as colorful, having brown/tan markings that make them look sort of like a sparrow. The beak, however, is the same on both sexes.  It is black, thick and sturdy - ideal for cracking open seeds and small nuts.

The House Finch is not native to north Texas, but has spread into this area, and multiplied, to the point where it's extremely common year 'round. It's now plentiful in almost all parts of the country.

Originally, the species was found in northern California, but was trapped and shipped to Long Island, New York for re-sale under the more marketable name "Hollywood Finches". This was of course, illegal. So several retailers let their "Hollywood Finches" loose around 1940 to avoid prosecution. The birds, actually named House Finches, liked their new environment and spread and multiplied rapidly.

Easily make a "suet sandwich"
Ever noticed how a typical suet feeder for birds is just a little bigger than a slice of bread? Put that bit of trivia to work for you! In a pinch you can make an ordinary sandwich with two slices of bread (I use "heels") and a cheap brand of crunchy peanut butter. Slip the sandwich into an ordinary suet feeder; the birds will love it! As long as you don't feed peanut butter all the time, it won't do any harm.

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