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House Finches Can Be Annoying

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Eastern bluebirds are water freaks. They will bathe in almost any weather, like their cousins the robins. I love how they look in late fall, with their fresh plumage showing a glaucous, frosty sheen.

We are not the only ones who find bluebirds beautiful. They have a hard time bathing alone. It seems all a bluebird has to do is plop into the water to find himself surrounded by sycophants and admirers of every stripe and wingbar. These, winter-plumaged American goldfinches, and a house finch.

I have been watching bluebirds since 1981, and I can tell you that house finches are unnaturally attracted to them. If a bluebird is around, a house finch will follow it and try to copy what it's doing.

I have no explanation for this behavior, other than that they just seem to like bluebirds. I had a captive house finch in the studio for nine years. He had a mirror he loved to look into. Then I cut out and plasticized a photo of a bluebird, and that finch slept next to it, pecked it gently until it wore to white.

This little male house finch is trying to be subtle, but he's creepin' on the bathing beauty.

He makes his move, front and center. Hi. Having a bath?

Yes, Mr. Observant, I am bathing, and I'd thank you to give me a little elbow room here. You house finches have not had an original thought in your lives.

What? What? I'm just watching you. I'm not hurting anything. Why so cross?

You are annoying. Please leave.

(finch takes the not-so-subtle hint)


Phew. Creeper! Back to my bath.


Neat observations. No bluebirds in my garden as yet.

Well, that explains why I get a half-dozen house finches when my lone male bluebird comes to tube feeder.

Mt. bluebirds long gone here, I had turkeys in my birdbath this morning, NOBODY creeps on them.

Hilarious. Pretty patient, the bluebird - and the photographer.

I love your bird bath. Where did you find it?

My birdbath froze over night! Time to plug it in. Definitely no bluebirds but lots of goldfinch.

I think the TSA needs to hire some house finches...

What a neat series of photos. The expression on the bluebird's face...priceless.

Very funny! I love the bluebird's expressions, especially the one with the wide open mouth.

Love your stories so much...

WOW... such a neat sequence of photos! Love those bluebirds! I don't have a huge problem with house finches (love my upside down GOLDfinch feeder though) but man, those English Sparrows... I could do with a few dozen LESS!

Posted by Anonymous November 22, 2010 at 1:08 PM

Wonderful photos! That bird bath is to die for! I can see why it's popular!

@Cynthia Nicole, it's getting a bit hard to find. You can Google "Magnificent Bird Spa" or find the Magnificent Bird Spa available here:

The photo of bathing bluebirds in the Spa that you'll see wherever it's advertised is mine! I take it in at first frost, as it is not weatherproof. Mine's showing a little wear and tear--probably time to get a new one. It gets hard use all spring and summer long here. Terrific attractant for woodland birds that don't eat seed, as well as feeder birds.

Bollocks--trying again to give you the URL:

AWWWW! That's all, AWWWW!

Love that expression! Great story.

What an interesting observation. I'm going to keep my eyes open at our bird bath to see if this happens with the Western Bluebird and our local House Finches. I love their conversation!

Okay, I'm out to set up a winter bird bath close to my house (read warm photography spot).

I've made the same observations as you, and at times they agitate the bluebirds to the point that the blues turn on the finches and chase them off, if only temporarily. My female is building her second nest of the summer, the box is on a wooden power pole with a sizable butterfly bush at the base, and at times there are 8-10 finches hanging out in the bush, resting on the top of the house, and just being pests in general. They will sit on the powerlines next to the bluebirds, follow them to the ground when the blues are homing in on a bug, landing within a foot of them and waiting for the blue to subdue the cricket or whatever hapless insect it is, then following them to the driveway where the blue pounds the bug to death and then following them to their next perch.

Posted by Anonymous June 9, 2014 at 12:40 PM

Oh my God!!, such a neat read. Very uplifting post. Made my day. Love the great pictures and your great humor. I really enjoyed the post, I recently have had some house finches show up and want to build nests in all of my wife's hanging, potted plants. I was concerned with the bluebirds on the property as to whether or not they were going to be problematic for the bluebirds and compete for breeding ground. Doesn't seem that is going to be the case at all. Well good!!

Thanks for helping me out with your post. funny and informative

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