Cochise County Birds: Carpodacus Mexicanus (or Haemorhous Mexicanus), the House Finch

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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.

Our resident house finch pair in a mesquite tree near the old camp trailer.

Our resident house finch pair in a mesquite tree near the old camp trailer.

The male house finch seems to be sampling a bit of mesquite thorn with his beak.

The male house finch seems to be sampling a bit of mesquite thorn with his beak.

Scoping out the landscape.

Scoping out the landscape.

One last look toward the setting sun, and...

One last look toward the setting sun, and…

...time to change mesquite trees.

…time to change mesquite trees.

Ah, much better.  Mama's gone home to warm up the nest for the night, this is a great perch, the sunset is looking good--call me one satisfied house finch.

Ah, much better. Mama’s gone home to warm up the nest for the night, this is a great perch, the sunset is looking good–call me one satisfied house finch.

She'd probably wanting me to head on home, but I'm not buying it yet.  It's nice out here today.

She’d probably wanting me to head on home, but I’m not buying it yet. It’s nice out here today.

Whatchu looking at, Ghost?

Whatchu looking at, Ghost?

Yeah, I hear you calling.  Keep your feathers on, girl.

Yeah, I hear you calling. Keep your feathers on, girl.

Man, I love her, but sometimes she can be so clingy....  She's not the nesting fever already, you know.  Her egg timer is ticking.

Man, I love her, but sometimes she can be so clingy…. She’s got the nesting fever already, you know. Her egg timer is ticking.

Bet you didn't know I had red feathers back there near my tail, did you?  See?  Right there between my wings?

Bet you didn’t know I had red feathers back there near my tail, did you? See? Right there between my wings?

Well...guess it's time to go.  I chirp big, but truth be told, I'm as aware as anybody that if Mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy.

Well…guess it’s time to go. I chirp big, but truth be told, I’m as aware as anybody that if Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.

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8 thoughts on “Cochise County Birds: Carpodacus Mexicanus (or Haemorhous Mexicanus), the House Finch

  1. Absolutely. I can’t think of a better way to spend an afternoon than doing just that. For that matter, nothing wrong with the mornings, either.

  2. Fred, I didn’t see you on HP, so I googled you and found you. Hope that’s okay! Haven’t been on the computer much; on the road all the time.

  3. Heck yes, it’s more than okay, Mit! (Or Clyde, whichever you prefer.) Thanks for checking in!

    When I pulled out of HP (finished that process on Oct. 4, 2013), I felt I had to be very sparing when it came to emailing friends. I worked from the bottom up, leaving the best Hubs for last, and didn’t want to see an “accidental” glitch suddenly make something disappear before I could copy and paste it outa there. I don’t really believe management would have done that, but you know the paranoid’s motto: Better safe than sorry.

    I know what you mean about not finding much computer time when you’re on the road. I was usually doing good to find time enough to strum my guitar every once in a while.

    Be safe out there.

  4. Thanks, Sha. Oh, and heads up: I’ll be writing much less from now on. Spirit hammered me hard to get the point across (a long story, about which I’ll post someday). I was updating a plugin, SlimStat, and the whole thing locked up tight, couldn’t be accessed by anybody. It was still that way when I gave up & went to bed. There had been about 24 hours of “nothing works” in other, not-this-site areas (both online and offline) before that happened. I knew it meant I was missing something.

    That something was, “You need to get a life, Ghost.” So, from here on out, I’ll limit myself to one post per week at most, maybe one per month. We’ll see.

    The tale of Treemin’s adventures will be finished eventually, but it may take years.

  5. Ghost, my blog has gone from 3 times a week to once a week to maybe twice a month. I’ve gotten fat sitting behind this friggin’ monitor. I have no life anymore. You need to regain yours. Maybe I’ll follow suit when I find a way to pay my bills by writing. Actually, I’m working on that. I’ve just gone thru two certification tesst, both of which I passed with flying colors (94% and 100%) and have a couple more to check out.

    Learning, building and reading the past year has cost me income but is necessary to achieving my goal.

    However, in the interim I have no f%^#ing life!

    Do what you need to do my friend. I’ll be here.

    Love you and Pam forever,
    Sha

  6. Thanks. I will (or at least expect to) write every Saturday night, so there’ll be a new post every Sunday morning.

    When I do decide I’ve managed to get a life, I’ll let you know. Got a lot going on here this month; not quite got a life yet. But by sometime in April, things should be looking a bit better, just one brushfire to put out instead of 3 at a time. 🙂

    We love you, too, Sha. Defnitely.

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