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Saturday, June 22, 2013

The eastern House Finch is the one we see in Texas

House Finch

The "eastern" House Finch is very common here in north Texas. A 15-year study of all House Finches has been published by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology; dramatizing that House Finches are of two groups – western (as in “west of the Rockies”) and eastern. Originally, there was only a western population, but a few birds from the west were captured and brought to New York in the 1940s as “Hollywood Finches”. Some escaped and are now common everywhere east of the Rockies. (The western population still lives a rather isolated life). The two groups began as genetically identical; but the eastern group has diversified greatly as its range expanded.

The males are noticeably red around the head, but the females are drab – a brown and tan streaky appearance making nesting less obtrusive.
The eastern group (the one here) is far more susceptible to a common eye disease among House Finches, since the birds stem from just a few birds, and have very little genetic diversity. Cornell is working on a remedy to this contagious disease in check. Until then, however, keep your feeders clean, especially if you spot a House Finch with an eye/s that look swollen shut.

 

feathered insecticide        The colorful Flicker,  fairly common in north Texas is actually a woodpecker. However, it’s a woodpecker who, in addition to pecking on trees, gets quite a bit of food via seeds and berries, and probing the soil for bugs. One biologist opened the stomach of a dead Flicker (the “Northern Flicker” lives here), and counted more than 5,000 ants inside!
 

 

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