“The more often we see the things around us – even the beautiful and wonderful things – the more they become invisible to us. That is why we often take for granted the beauty of this world: the flowers, the trees, the birds, the clouds – even those we love. Because we see things so often, we see them less and less.” — Joseph B. Wirthlin
A Spot of Cheer
Almost anywhere you live in North America, your day could easily be brightened by a house finch, a seemingly common name for a little brown bird, whose scarlet bib and head band worn by the male lights up any gray day. The female wears only a pale brown feather coat whose white front is brown streaked, as is the male’s lower belly. Both have a sturdy bill for their dainty size.
House finches are the most widely distributed songbirds in America. And since they love backyards and bird feeders, they’re also one of the easiest birds to identify. Here in Tucson I see them almost daily.
Because of their coloring and whistle punctuated song, these birds were once popular pets. A crackdown on keeping wild birds in this country, however, pinched off most of that activity – and also is the reason these birds can now be found in all 48 mainland states. Before 1940, when New York house finch breeders loosed their breeding stock because of the new laws, house finches were only found in the West. The freed pet birds, however, quickly dispersed, and today their North America numbers are estimated at a billion.
I only learned the bird’s history this morning, when I was reading Feather Brained by Bob Tarte, a late-blooming birder like myself. I was 60 years old before I begin fully seeing all the birds that share our spaces. Today I can’t not see birds. And that is a gift I’ve come to treasure.
Bean Pat: Ruffed Grouse http://tinyurl.com/jjfnxpm Great photo of a ruffed grouse for birdwatchers. This blog also took me back to my 2012 drive down the Skyline Drive through Shenandoah National Park, where if you look hard enough you’ll find this species of grouse.