Thursday, June 2, 2011

The Purple Finch Show!

 It was Monday afternoon when I reached my threshold of being indoors. Despite the 11c degree temperature, piercing wind and rain and drizzle, I knew that I had to get outdoors and see if any new birds have landed.

I began with a trek on Cochrane Pond Road followed by a short hike through Bidgood's Park. I did see and hear a few birds but I don't think the yield was sufficient to countervail the weather that I was dealing with. I decided some birding from my car was in order.
Knowing where a great feeder is located in this part of town, I headed off to see if it had any visitors. Jackpot! There was a large flock of Purple Finches and American Goldfinches feeding. I was able to park fairly close and lower the window to enjoy the feeding frenzy. The wind and rain were blowing on the other side of the car so I no longer was getting wet or chilled.

I was able to sit in comfort and let the show unfold.  There were four male Purple Finches in their stunning breeding plumage and numerous, more numerous, females.

It was interesting to see that the females seem to be a bit more brave than the males. They would lead the group back to the feeder every time that they birds flushed away.
The bird fed on the feeder and on the ground below the feeder. The fine mist didn't seem to interfere too much with the picture-taking.
In fact, the overcast conditions often created some interesting lighting effects. I particularly like the soft colors of this shot. Yet, nothing could dull the bright red crown of this handsome male Purple Finch.
The females seemed to be a bit more aggressive when it came to collecting seeds. They would, when possible, shoo the other birds away to have the whole lot to themselves.
When you see these bright colors on this bird, it raises the question, "Why was it named "Purple" Finch?"  Why not pink finch or red finch. I have never seen this bird when it looked purple.
There did seem to be some pairing off going on. Some males were more friendly with specific females and would drive off the other males that came near.
These two males seem to be having a stand-off over a female. They are watching her closely.  It is also interesting to note that the markings on these two birds is a slightly different. The breast on the bird in the background is quite a bit darker. Does this have to do with age? I don't know.
I have been wishing for a long time to have an opportunity to watch a group of Purple Finch such as this. I thought that I had found a group off Waterfordbridge Road but they were unreliable. Sometimes they were around and other times they were not.
For about 45 minutes I was able to enjoy the simple beauty of nature at its best. I totally forgot that the weather was so miserable. It is so easy to get lost in the moment only to check my watch to find how much time has passed. Fishing is like that, too. There is really nothing else going on but "being in the moment."
I must thank the owner of this feeder who always keeps it topped up and is able to lure in so many different birds. In addition to feeding the birds, the owner welcomes others to enjoy the spectacular shows that unfold in the yard. Hats off to you!
On a grey day, what better to brighten up the surroundings than the vibrant colors of spring with a natural orchestral accompaniment.

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