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Posts Tagged ‘Purple Finch’

American Goldfinches in various stages of colour change.

When I step out the door these mornings, what a joyful noise greets my ears! The air is filled with the songs of birds. The many Robins are “Cheer-up!”ing. The Red-winged Blackbirds are “Oak-a-lee!”ing. The Mourning Doves inquire “Oh, who? Who? Who?” The Chickadees whistle “Seaaa-beee!” The Grackles cackle. The Crows caw. The Cowbirds burble. The Phoebe wheezes his name. The Goldfinches and Juncos twitter. Overhead, Canada Geese honk their way across the sky. The neighbours’ pen of Turkeys gobble. The Blue Jays, seated high in the tree branches, call out “Jay!” as they wait for me to bring forth my daily offering of peanuts. In the last few days, a Hairy Woodpecker has been rat-a-tatting noisily on some metal siding.

Purple Finch and American Goldfinch at niger feeder.

Some bird-feeders stop putting seed out once the snow has melted away, figuring the birds can forage for themselves. If you carry on filling your feeders, however, you can enjoy the pleasure of having a whole raft of “spring” birds close at hand. It is fun to watch for the new arrivals and observe the Goldfinches changing out their drab gold feather coats for brilliant yellow ones. I didn’t see Purple Finches all winter, but now a few have joined the Goldfinches at the niger feeder. If you can keep your suet feeder stocked in spite of the assault of the melting sun and aggressive Starlings, you may be rewarded with the sight of parent Downy Woodpeckers feeding their youngsters at the suet station.

In the cacophony of spring voices, one of the sweetest belongs to the White-throated Sparrows (Zonotrichia albicollis). They are easily recognized by their yellow lores, spots over the eyes, and white throats. They sing a pure, whistled “Oh! Sweet! Canada! Canada! Canada!” And how sweet it is, indeed.

Whitethroated Sparrow and Dark-eyed Junco

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As spring gently unfolds her warmth, the species of birds that frequent the backyard feeder are changing with the weather. Certainly, the feeder is still a major attraction. However, the Blue Jays that dominated the daily arrivals just a few weeks ago have now given way to Red-winged Blackbirds and Common Grackles. That’s not to say that the Blue Jays have disappeared, but fewer seem to be visiting. The American Goldfinches, on the other hand, are present in even greater numbers. The males are just starting to show signs of their spring spruce-up as their bright yellow breeding colours begin to replace their muted winter gold. A few days ago, the Goldfinches were joined by a few raspberry-bright Purple Finches. The Purple Finches weren’t regular winter visitors, so perhaps these few are just stopping by on their migration north. The wintering American Tree Sparrows are still here too. They will be leaving for their northern breeding grounds one day soon. I find that they tend to just disappear one day, replaced by similarly-coloured Chipping Sparrows as if by magic. The Chipping Sparrows breed here in the summer and winter farther south.

A few male Brown-headed Cowbirds have been joining the Grackles and Red-wings. I did see a few stray Cowbirds that visited a few times in the winter, but I think these individuals are probably here for the summer.

I like to watch the Grackles pointing. This “head-up” display is sometimes performed by females, but it is predominately a male posture, used both to attract females and as an aggressive signal to warn off other males.

In the photograph below, I caught a Grackle displaying with puffed-up feathers. It’s not clear whether his audience is impressed. The second Grackle looks a bit bemused by this performance, as if thinking “What the heck??” The display is another sign of spring and the new breeding season that is quickly approaching.

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