Friday, November 28, 2014

Purple Finch

On 20 November 2014, while driving across the fields west of Northfield, John Holden and I found a Purple Finch in a farmyard crabapple tree. This species is common across much of the northern United States, southern Canada, and the west coast of North America. This finch winters in much of the eastern United States, where it feeds on buds, fruits, seeds. Purple Finches often are seen at bird feeders.
Purple Finches enjoy “quasicyclical” winter irruptions (Wootton 1996). I assume “quasicyclical” means that finch winter population numbers vary from year to year, but not as predictably as those of other winter finches. Presumably these population swings are the result of yearly variation in northern conifer seeds.
This male Purple finch is at more two years old. First and second year males look like females. Males do not molt into their red plumage until their second September. I shared photos of female-appearing birds in a previous blog post.

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