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Saturday, 12 June 2010

The variability of suburban MEXICAN HOUSE FINCHES in Orlando, FLORIDA

Paul Heuber very kindly provided me with this very valuable information from his home town in Florida, clearly illustrating the variation of Mexican House Finches occurring in this area.

Hi Lee,

Birding World magazine contacted me last month regarding a photo of a yellow variant House Finch that I had taken in my yard in January, 2008 and posted on my photo page. After they contacted me, I posted several color variants that can be seen at this link below:

This past winter, I had at least eight male birds here at my feeders. I say at least eight because they never all came to the feeders at once, always in smaller groups. Of those eight birds, I had the following color variants:

2+ of the typical red male. There may have been more but I never saw more than 2 at one time.
2+ of the salmon color shown in the link above. Again, there may have been more.
3 of the yellow variants. One with pale yellow on the forehead and no color on the breast, one a lemon yellow, and one a deeper orange-yellow.
1 bicolored male seen in the link above. I have seen and photographed at least one other bicolored male in September, 2008. Photograph attached and published above.

Last year, I observed at least one pinkish red male that I didn't photograph.

There were an approximately equal number of female birds here this winter. At this time, I only have two male birds and their families coming to the feeders, one red and one yellow.

When the birds come to my feeders, they almost exclusively eat black oil sunflower seed. The only other food I have observed them eating away from my feeders is loquat fruit in early spring.

It is my understanding that House Finches are a relatively new occurrence here in Central Florida. I first observed a House Finch here in my yard in November, 1999. My next record was not until October, 2004. They were sporadic visitors to my feeders until July, 2007. I have seen them here almost daily since then. I didn't keep records of the color variations over the years but my recollection is that there were more yellow than red birds early on. The unusual color variations (bicolored, peach, pink) started showing up more recently.

Paul Hueber
Altamonte Springs, Florida