Salmon Arm resident John Woods took this photo of a male house finch in his yard recently, known for its distinctive song. (John Woods image)

Salmon Arm resident John Woods took this photo of a male house finch in his yard recently, known for its distinctive song. (John Woods image)

Name that refrain: Shuswap birder suggests starting with this bird

If you want to identify bird songs in the region, the house finch is common this time of year

Although you have likely heard this voice, not everyone will know where it’s coming from.

John Woods, a Salmon Arm resident with a keen interest in birds and bird-watching, sent in a recording of what he described as one of the Shuswap’s most conspicuous singers, the house finch.

With birdsong at its peak in May and June, he said male house finches are easy to identify with their sparrow-sized, stout bills, combined with varying amounts of red and brown on their heads and breast. Woods noted that females are far less colourful and best identified in association with a male for those people just beginning as birdwatching.

House finches often live in suburban areas and have a large range across North America.

Woods said the bird he photographed was sitting atop an ornamental spruce tree in his family’s front yard and is one of the most richly-coloured he’s seen.

“They are well-known to have striking differences between individuals in the amount of red in their plumage. The house finch in our yard also is a wonderful singer and constantly attracts our attention with a rich and varied song – unique to each bird but similar between individuals. For anyone wanting to learn their bird songs, your backyard house finch would be a good place to start by watching and listening as it sings…

“Once you’ve learned the house finch song, it will be almost impossible to go for a walk in town without hearing one,” he suggested.

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martha.wickett@saobserver.net
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