Housefinch

The house finches don’t seem to want to be too predictable with their first mating song (that I hear, anyway). A few years, they’ve been early enough that I started to wonder if the “first” song of the year/season would start happening in late December of the previous year. But nothing like that happened this year!

It all seems to come down to weather. If we have big stretches of warm, sunny weather in late December and early January, I hear the song earlier. More traditional winter weather, and it is later. And I make a point of getting out often, so it doesn’t just come down to my not being outside as often in “real” winter weather. 

So this year, the winning date for first full house finch song is

Jan 28! (The latest date since I started keeping records!)

Here are my results from past years:

2015: Jan 23

2014: Jan 2

2013: Jan 17

2012: Jan 3

2011: Jan 3

2010: Jan 19

2009: Jan 12

2008: Jan 8

2007: Jan 15

2006: Jan 15

2005: Jan 23

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Wow – I was starting to worry the house finches were taking this year off from mating season! Every year, I ponder what the factors affect how early I hear them start singing their mating song. I know day length has to be part of it, but other factors must come into play as well. 

Over the past many years, they’ve been getting earlier, especially during years when early January is quite warm and sunny. This year, we’ve had some long GRAY stretches, along with occasionally  very VERY cold temperatures. I don’t know if these are actual factors, or if they just affected how often I was outside to be listening.

So this year is the first one I can remember in which I had to start actively listening for them (most years, they surprise me while I’m out on a walk or run – “Oh right! The first house finch song!”) But this year, there were several instances when I stood out on the deck listening hard, or stopped between the car and the house on a sunny day, just SURE I’d hear one of them singing. Occasionally, I’d hear a house finch to a note or two, kind of like he was warming up, but then….nothing. Finally, on a morning jog, one of them surprised me just as I was about to enter Monument Valley Park. He sang one full song, and that was it. Glad I caught it! Three days later, in the same spot, more than one was singing and they were doing multiple verses.

So this year, the winning date for first full house finch song is

Jan 23! (It was ten years ago that I heard one this late!)

Here are my results from the past several years:

2014: Jan 2

2013: Jan 17

2012: Jan 3

2011: Jan 3

2010: Jan 19

2009: Jan 12

2008: Jan 8

2007: Jan 15

2006: Jan 15

2005: Jan 23