House Finch Hope & Love Spring Eternal

I've written before of the birds in my suburban yard. We've spotted dozens of species on our postage stamp size property, from diminutive Anna's Hummingbird to the impressive Cooper's Hawk who lands frequently on our fence, including of course one of my favorite backyard birds: the oh-how-common-of-a-name-can-you-possibly-get House Finch.

As the species name indicates, Carpodacus mexicanus (the proper name for House Finch) is a native of Mexico and parts of the U.S. southwest and was only recently introduced into California and the rest of the nation. Interesting anecdote: Illegally sold on the east coast as "Hollywood Finches", vendors released their birds to avoid prosecution and the now ubiquitous little bird took full advantage of the opportunity.

House Finches are now found just about everywhere. As many as there are, all looking very much the same, it's impossible to know but Carolyn and I believe it's the same one guy busy entertaining us most days. And if one can just get past daydreaming of the Galapagos Islands and photo safaris to Tanzania, his backyard performance is as remarkable as anything found in nature.

We hear him before we see him, a chipper song of "HEY, LOOK AT ME, LOOK AT ME! PRETTY TERRIFIC, RIGHT HERE! RIGHT NOW!" Yes, I know, it's all tweets and chirps but it's also an obvious song of himself, bright and loud, singing that without any doubt he knows himself to be the most remarkable two inches of bird on the planet.

Atop the redwood fence, just by the seed feeder, he manages to fold his body into a capital V, head and tail both pointing up and away towards the sky. He crazily hops up and down, back and forth, as animated as something out of a Looney Tunes cartoon, under the apparently unimpressed glare of a never ending stream of underwhelmed females. Based on his track record, it's truly a wonder there are so many of these birds.

This performance goes on for two, five, sometimes as long as ten minutes. Inevitably the target of his attention just flies off leaving a lonely and one assumes disappointed winged lothario standing on the fence, surrounded by Goldfinches and Jays completely disinterested in the whole thing. At times Carolyn and I turn away, worried he might be embarrassed that his sad performance played out in front of a couple of laughing bipeds. But within minutes he's back at it, another finchy femme in his sights. Hope and love do indeed spring eternal, at least here in our backyard.