Yes, “experts” disagree: The House Finch (in Cochise County and elsewhere) is termed either Carpodacus Mexicanus or Haemorhous Mexicanus in scientific nomenclature, depending on who you ask. However, most of us who enjoy the company of these cheerful little songbirds couldn’t care less about that. Potayto, potahto, who gives a flip? The red-tinted male brightens the landscape, the more muted, brownish female is seldom far away, and they’re monogamous pairs who could give us two-leggeds a few lessons in effective parental behavior.
What more could we ask than that?
This afternoon, our local resident pair popped into view, hanging out on a mesquite tree not far from our old camp trailer. After a bit, Mrs. Finch took off somewhere. Mr. Finch looked around a bit, thought about following her, then clearly decided, No, I’m not a follower. The late afternoon sun is shining just fine where I am, and besides, Ghost is having too much fun taking pictures for me to disappoint him entirely.
With that, he swooped down from his branch–allowing me one shot that blurred a bit as I tried to follow his short but swift flight–and swooped back up to land in another mesquite tree that happened to be located smack dab in front of the previously referenced camp trailer. He stayed there for a while, too, allowing some pretty decent photos.
More than anything, it was good to see these birds slimmed down again. Last May, Pam and I blew it by building a little gazebo specifically for the purpose of hanging a bird feeder given to my wife by her son and his wife on Mother’s Day. For a while, the results were awesome, especially for the finches. Once they figured out there was unlimited free seed available at our house, house finches came from far and wide, no longer just our resident pair but at times a flock numbering twenty or more. It was an amazing sight.
It also turned out to be a really stupid move. The finches had plenty of fun, but they also got plenty fat. No songbird is going to starve around here; this may be considered desert country, but seed plants abound. However, there is a songbird-eating Cooper’s Hawk who regularly hunts along Paloma Trail, less than half a mile from the Border Fort, and plenty of other predators would be more than happy to luck upon a slow, fat finch. Worse than that, the birds spilled huge amounts of seed from the feeder onto the concrete pad below. That worked fine for the occasional desert cottontail rabbit and the amazingly plump canyon towhees who preferred their free seed at ground level, but it was an absolute bonanza for the carpenter ants. The ants had a population explosion that lasted throughout the summer. They produced huge, big headed super-soldier individuals that only show up when food is abundant. And their numbers grew so exponentially that in October they invaded our home–which carpenter ants are not known for doing.
Fortunately, my stepson is a professionally trained pest exterminator. He dropped by and terminated the colony that had decided my bedroom was a good place to set up housekeeping. But we had to get rid of the bird feeder. No more free lunch for the birdies. The road to Hell really is paved with good intentions. Never again.
Now, as we head toward spring in 2014 (today is March tenth), only our original pair of resident house finches (be they Carpodacus Mexicanus or Haemorhous Mexicanus) show up regularly in our vicinity, almost always fairly near the residence (which is no doubt how they got called house finches in the first place), perching and singing and flying and no doubt finding their own wild seeds. The larger flocks were cool to watch and great to photograph, but I can’t say that I miss them. It’s healthier this way.
Here are some of the pics.