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Posts Tagged ‘Purple Finch’

Home improvement projects are keeping me inside lately, so here are a few images from dog walks and the bird feeder.

IMG_5742Double-crested Cormorants on the Columbia River
IMG_5748IMG_5749California Gull

IMG_5740former sturgeon, Columbia River

IMG_5727Lesser Goldfinch

IMG_5736I only see Purple Finches once or twice a year at my feeder.

IMG_5678young Douglas’s Squirrel in the shadows, Tualatin Hills Nature Park

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The weather is cooling and rain is in the forecast, as our long dry summer is finally letting go.

Cackling Geese have arrived by the thousands in recent days. This Ridgeway’s Cackling Goose is sporting a black chin stripe and a white collar.

An American Pipit, blending in with the dry cracked lake bed at Fernhill Wetlands

Two California Gulls harassing a Bald Eagle. It is probably much safer being behind the eagle than in front.

Closer to home, this Purple Finch visited the feeder. If you look closely you can see her tongue positioning the sunflower seed.

Mimi, one of my neighbor cats, is enjoying the birdbath and keeping those pesky hummingbirds out of my garden. I have two words for you, Mimi; Urban Coyotes.

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For the past few weeks I have been enjoying a large flock of Pine Siskins at my feeder. But as often occurs during years of high siskin numbers, I started noticing a few sick birds. So I stopped feeding for a few days. With the feeder empty, the large flocks of birds dispersed, reducing the risk of disease spreading from bird to bird.

Packing birds into unnaturally high densities at a bird feeder can create risks for the birds we are trying to help. While many of us enjoy feeding birds and other wildlife, it is important to do so mindfully. We have to be aware that feeding birds is something we do for our own entertainment, not something that the birds actually need. My feeder is outside my window for the sole purpose of drawing birds in close so that I can enjoy watching them from the comfort of my home. If the feeder wasn’t there, the birds would do just fine. It is my responsibility to be aware of how my bird feeding impacts the birds.

It was reported recently that Scotts Miracle-Gro was selling bird food treated with pesticides known to be harmful to birds (see story here). A few years ago, it was revealed that sunflower farmers in the Dakotas have taken such measures as destroying cattail marshes and poisoning and/or shooting birds to reduce the impact of blackbirds feeding in their fields. These stories illustrate how the seemingly innocuous hobby of feeding birds can have broader implications. We need to know where the food comes from and what is in it.

My feeder is filled again and, with the large flock of siskins gone, other species are becoming more visible.


Lesser Goldfinches, our smallest finch, are coming more frequently now that things have quieted down.


Two Purple Finches have appeared this week.


A few Pine Siskins stayed behind when the main flock left. A Purple Finch towers in the background.

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As luck would have it, a recent streak of clear sunny days has coincided with my battle with an influenza virus. So rather than traversing the state enjoying birds in the sunshine, I have been stuck on the couch and at my work station watching the birds at the feeder. The feeder has been very busy, however, thanks to a new batch of large clean sunflower hearts and an influx of ravenous finches.


Prior to this week, I had only seen a few Pine Siskins this winter. But now a flock of several dozen are present most of the day.


The American Goldfinches are starting to show some summer color.


One Purple Finch has been joining the fray. I only see them once or twice a year at the feeder.


The resident House Finches have had a hard time finding room at the feeder, and have been waiting until the flock of smaller finches move on for the day.


Two male Varied Thrushes are competing with the squirrels for seeds under the feeder.


With the increased activity, the local Dark-eyed Juncos have given up trying to use the feeder, opting to scratch around the periphery instead.


As always, the Black-capped Chickadees sneak in and grab the occasional seed.

I am hoping the weather holds and my lungs clear so I can go a little farther afield next week.

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Purple Finch


This La Nina weather pattern shows no sign of abating, making outings miserably wet and not so productive, so I was delighted to see a Purple Finch in the yard this week. About once a year I see a Purple Finch at my feeder. They breed in mixed woodlands in the Portland area, but not in my neighborhood.


Many years ago, before House Finches had spread across the entire continent, separating House and Purple Finches was considered quite a challenge. But here, with the benefit of a few decades experience, they don’t look all that similar. There are clear differences in color, and the Purple Finch shows quite a bit more heft than the more slender House Finch. While the House Finch has patches of red, the Purple Finch is pinkish-purple all over.


Those dorsal view of the Purple Finch shows the pinkish color washed over the upperparts, including the wings.


Like all finches, they have no trouble popping open sunflower seeds.

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