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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housefinch.jpg

 

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

housefinch.jpgThe house finches are back to being early birds this year. I headed out for one of my routine jogs and when I was in a nearby park, I realized that I was hearing finches twittering a bit. At first I heard just parts of songs (I only count the first FULL mating song that I hear), but I stopped and found the flock hanging out in a nearby shrub. One bird took off and landed at the top of a spruce tree, and I thought “Ah, he is going to be the one…” And sure enough, a moment later, he belted out the full house finch mating song!

So this year, the winning date is

Jan 2! (This is the earliest I’ve heard one so far.)

Here are my results from the past few years:

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

housefinch.jpgThis year, the house finches were a little more reluctant to get started on the singing. (The chickadees have been singing their song for about two weeks already.) I’m sure day-length is one of their triggers, but given conditions this year, I would also guess that temperatures also play a part. We’ve had a couple of very cold spells this January, but this week we warmed back up into the mid-50’s. And surprise, surprise – within a day of the warm up, I heard the first finch singing to me as I dragged my trashcans up the driveway from the curb.

This year, the winning date is

Jan 17!

Here are my results from the past few years:

2012: Jan 3

2011: Jan 3

2010: Jan 19

2009: Jan 12

2008: Jan 8

2007: Jan 15

2006: Jan 15

2005: Jan 23

housefinch.jpgThis year, if not for a cold that kept me in the house, I might have heard my earliest house finch full mating song ever! (My fellow birding friend Sandra heard one two days earlier. I was so jealous.) As soon as I was well enough, I got out for a good long walk, keeping my ears open. I was a little disappointed when I was almost back home because I hadn’t heard any house finches at all. And then, I rounded the corner near my house, and I heard one. There, sitting in the crabapple tree in my front yard, was a lovely male house finch, singing his little heart out!

And this year, the winning date is exactly the same as last year (!)

Jan 3!

As with last year, we’ve had pretty warm weather for this time of winter, and I wonder if that is what spurs these guys to start wooing the girls so early.

Here are my results from the past few years:

2011: Jan 3

2010: Jan 19

2009: Jan 12

2008: Jan 8

2007: Jan 15

2006: Jan 15

2005: Jan 23

housefinch.jpgI’m a little late on delivering this year’s “first house finch mating song” report! It’s actually been over a month, but I’ve been a bit lax in scheduling writing time for my blog lately, something I’ll soon remedy.

But anyway….every year I record when I hear the first FULL house finch mating song. And this year, the winner is

Jan 3!

This is the earliest I’ve heard and recorded a full song; in fact, the little guy barely made it into 2011. I always have theories, usually related to weather. We definitely have had a warmer (and much much drier) than average winter this year, and sometimes I think a streak of warm weather encourages the males to start wooing their mates early.

Here are my results from the past few years:

2010: Jan 19

2009: Jan 12

2008: Jan 8

2007: Jan 15

2006: Jan 15

2005: Jan 23