My Life’s Birds: #90
September 22, 1993 – Christian Co, Mo – Is there a more ubiquitous feeder bird in North America than the House Finch? They are, by far, the most numerous birds at my feeder in North Carolina. Since that fateful release of “Hollywood Finches” by a shady New Jersey Long Island pet dealer just over 50 years ago, they’ve rapidly expanded their range, previously limited to the western half of the continent, from sea to shining sea.
What’s perhaps most amazing is the rate at which this bird has expanded its range. When I got my life individual, on the feeder at the Linden house, they were only uncommon residents, and it was something of a big deal. Since then, they’ve only increased, and birds like Purple Finches, once regular every winter, are hard to find in southern Missouri. While there’s no solid evidence backing the assertion that Purple Finch population declines are directly related to House Finch population increases, it does seem that way. House Finches are aggressive little birds, and able to adapt to habitat degraded by development. But the winters in Missouri aren’t as cold as they used to be either, and cold winters always brought the Purples in numbers.
House Finches are always there, however, and my sighting in 1993 was the beginning if what became a flood.
Off topic, but still cool. If there are some readers who want to see what birding is like in my old stomping grounds, check out the results of my dad’s Big Day in Southwest Missouri, complete with really nice pictures!