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Tuesday, 11 May 2010

HOUSE FINCH still considered more likely of captive origin by BBA

I have been frantically soliciting further responses and information from my UK400 Club Advisory Panel on the evaluation process of this particular controversial potential vagrant in Cornwall and the overwhelming view still bears down that the bird is an escape rather than a ship-assisted vagrant. I am going that extra mile in decision-making as the bird is still present this morning and there is still an opportunity for those that haven't yet, could still travel down and see it.

In recent days, we have all learnt a remarkable amount of information on this fairly drab seed-eater and several factors are pertinent in the decision-making. One major factor is that House Finch has not yet been recorded on the Azores in autumn, where many potential vagrants to the Western Palearctic make frequent landfall, whilst the amount of orange-yellow feathering in the plumage instantly suggests a bird of captive origin. The feathers are essentially dead when they are fully grown so any emergence of yellow pigmentation would have had to be grown at the time of the natural moult, which should have been in October or November of last year if it was a vagrant. The Cornish bird is incredibly fresh, indicating a moult deformity, again indicating a captive origin, where many House Finches are bred with this in mind out of natural synch.

On top of this, Julian Hough and others have commented on the actual scarcity of diet deficient individuals on the Eastern Seaboard, and that the main propensity of distribution is in the SW states such as Arizona and California.

So, just to reiterate, the current stance taken by the UK400 Club has not changed in the light of more valuable information arriving, and the Cornish bird is still considered to be MORE likely an escaped cagebird than either a natural ship-assisted vagrant from the East Coast of North America or an orange-yellow ship-assisted variant from the largely sedentary West Coast population. In which case, the final decision is likely to be that the bird is placed on Category E, alongside the two previous British records of this species.