OK, there’s a back story. I bet you didn’t see *that* coming.
House finches were one of the first birds I learned to identify after I “took up” birding, if my haphazard participation in this activity can be so characterized. It was a capability born of opportunity, not any particular effort on my part. We saw many such finches in Phoenix, nesting in the roof overhang. The males were easy to identify due to their bright breeding plumage; the females were obvious because they were hanging around with the males.
Then I started seeing them at home. Lots of them. Now when I see a flitty, finch-sized bird with red on its head, I naturally default to house finch.
Last week, after I refilled the feeder, a mixed swarm of small flitty birds came to partake: juncos, black-capped chickadees, and the afore-mentioned default house finches. Or *were* they house finches?
I caught one on camera through the window and across the yard. The photo isn’t a candidate for National Geographic cover, but it’s definitely clear enough for identification. And no, it’s definitely not a house finch.
That left the common redpoll, a visitor to feeders in Western Ontario and Manitoba or so I’m told by people who have it as *their* default when they glimpse a flitty, finch-sized bird with red on its head. All right then.
Today, in a perfunctory sort of way, I decided to close the loop with Merlin, my bird-identification app. Then I confirmed its identification with the Cornell Lab’s website.
Surprise! It’s another flitty, finch-sized bird with red on its head. May I present no common redpoll, but a slightly fuzzy hoary redpoll. And a first for me.