Monday, February 21, 2011

Redpolls and Finches

Four dozen redpolls showed up at the feeders today. This goldfinch-sized finch is another one of those "irruptive" birds that come down from the north in some winters. The redpolls feed side-by-side with the more regular American goldfinches. You can identify them easily by their small yellow bill, black around the face, and most distinctly a bright red patch on their forehead. Redpolls have a bit of streaking and the adult males have a splash of pink on their breast.

When so many arrive at once -- and they do seem to move about in big flocks -- there is only so much space on the thistle feeders. Redpolls are voracious eaters so many spend a lot of time on the ground, while others claim space on the feeders. The gray squirrels are a little defensive of their feeding space beneath the feeders, keeping the redpolls on one side of the feeder post, while they occupy the other side. This photo through my office window is not great, but you get the idea.

When the squirrels leave, the redpolls spread out.

There was more splash of color as two pairs of purple finches arrived too. They first showed up last Friday. As the bird guides say, male purple finches look like they've been dipped in red raspberry juice. It was certainly a red finch day here.

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