A Charm of Finches
Birds. We like birds. We are not fanatical about it. We aren't even close. We know people who will drive several hours to see a rare bird. Okay we have taken the occasional trip to see new birds we haven't seen before but it isn't like we get all gooey and squishy inside when we hear there is a black-headed gull hanging out at some local dumpster. But still, we can get excited when a new bird shows up in the yard.
The other day it was an odd finch. Not odd as in: "Johnny Depp is an odd human". Odd as in: "You all aren't from around here now, are ya?" kind of odd. This wasn't our usual finch. It wasn't a goldfinch, not a house finch either. And it wasn't one of the large gaudy grosbeaks. So what to do about it? Dig into the bird books.
After multiple consultations of photos, drawings, paintings, descriptions of plumage, consulting range maps, examining bill characteristics, and some waffling we settled on an identification. A female purple finch had come to visit our feeders. Sure most people wouldn't care that a purple finch showed up with the house finches. Heck, most people don't even know that there is a difference between a purple and a house finch. And there's a Cassin's finch too? Whaaattt? Yet, if you are interested in the non-human part of the world, you probably find these differences fascinating. Darwin changed the world after spending time among the finches. One of our bird apps says in North America there are 89 species of the family Fringillidae (the taxonomic family finches belong to). We also learned that a group of finches is called a charm. Seems about right.