Posted by: atowhee | March 25, 2012


My birding friend, Terence Phillipe, lives not far from Bear Creek in Ashland. At around 1750′ elevation, but he’s been having a Finch Fesitval at his garden feeders. Here are some of his recent photos:This is an adult House Finch. Note the curved upper mandible (beak). Not other local finch has that. Also, this bird has unpatterned face. Note the seriously heavy beak on this bird, a Cassin’s Finch. The size of the beak drives its broad base back into the skull of the bird, “anchoring it so it won’t fall off the front of the head.” The Cassin’s Finch will move back into the mountains as the snow melts and the testosterone and estrogen levels rise. This is a young Purple Finch. The beak is mid-way between House and Cassin’s Finch, but there is a distinct pale line on the upper face which is a dependable field mark for this species. Here where oaks and madrone dominate lower elevation woods, this species tends to move up into evergreens for nesting. They are common at low elevations in the cold months, however. These are two Siskin pics, our streaky brown and yellow finch. Another bird that will move up into the evergeeens for breeding. And here’s another mountain dweller in these parts: The Junco is in the sparrow family, not a finch. One hint: it often feeds on the ground which is not a common practice among those of the finch persuasion. The Junco does nest mostly in mountain forests here, but elsewhere it can be found near sea level. What it requires is dense shade and undergrowth as it is a ground nester! And here’s another picture I took Saturday of oour local super-finch: This male Evening Grosbeak was also the LInk River in Klamath Falls, but his fellows are being spotted arouknd Ashland right now. This is a nomadic species that moves through western forests and alights and nests in unpredictable patterns.


  1. Harry, thank you for this Finch lesson. We are always trying to confuse House and Purple Finches. We don’t normally see Cassin’s in Austin and Purple are pretty rare. We really appreciate the photos and the clear statement of field marks. Hope that you all are having a good spring. We finally have rain (as much in the first three months of this year as the previous 14 months). Come see us.

  2. Beautiful pix of the finches! Any idea how close these were taken?

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