Backyard Birding: Finches

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Over the last month, I’ve been using the variety of birds in my back yard as easy practice subjects. Colorado is a hot spot for birds this time of year, as a wide variety migrate through the state on their way north. We don’t get quite as much a variety as many other states, or at least, we don’t get the volume of each species as many states. We do encounter a huge number of species, often in low numbers so many varieties tend to be fairly rare sights around here.

In the last couple of months, I’ve encountered a few varieties of Finch, your ubiquitous House Sparrow, Redwing Blackbirds, Common Grackles, Warblers, Doves/Pigeons, some Hawks, I think a Grosbeak or two (no pictures), American Robins (not my favorite bird…but more on that some other time), and some Cowbirds. I know a much greater variety of birds visits this state, however this seems to be the limit of species that are kind enough to visit my yard. 😉 One of the more ubiquitous types is the House Finch. They are hard to miss, the males have a bright red feathers on their chest and head. They have a fairly recognizable song as well.

At first my shots of this bird were rather lackluster…the lighting was never right, or the pose was off. Near the end of my backyard birding ventures, I learned a few things, and managed to get some good shots. My two favorite are from a lightly overcast day, a house finch visited on of my feeders and gave me quite a show as he maneuvered a safflower seed around his mouth (apparently trying to find a way to crack it open and get at the goodie inside!) The featured image of this blog, and the shot above, are two of my favorite backyard bird shots. Ironically, one of my best bird shots so far was also of a house finch, and that shot was exhibited in my first blog entry about backyard birding. A few of my other house finch shots can be seen in the gallery below.

In addition to house finches, I also heard (more often than saw) American Goldfinch as well. These are a smaller variety of finch, one of the smaller varieties of birds in general. They are bright yellow, with patches of black and white. They have a cheerful song, and enjoy perches on the highest twigs of the highest branches of the tallest trees…so they are most frequently out of reach. 😉 The only shot of a goldfinch that I really have to exhibit was taken on a very overcast day, opposite the sun. It required a considerable amount of processing to make the bird visible as anything more than a muddy black on bright white…but here it is, if nothing more than evidence of their existence in my back yard. 😀

There are a much greater variety of finches to be found. I’m not sure how many visit Colorado, or at what times of the year. I guess come fall I’ll have another chance to observe more species as they migrate south for the winter. There are a few species of bird that are known to winter in Colorado that arrive in the fall. I hope to put the skills I’ve learned over the last few months to good use when that time rolls around.