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House Finch (Haemorhous mexicanus)

Sometimes I have confused a House Finch for a Northern Cardinal in flight.

House finches are seed eaters so I had expected that I would see frequent visits to my backyard bird feeder. However, the Institute Woods in Princeton is the only place where I have seen this finch, often mistaking it for what I thought was a juvenile northern cardinal. This is my first photograph of a House Finch.

The House Finch (Haemorhous mexicanus) is a small passerine bird native to North America. It belongs to the family Fringillidae, commonly known as finches. The House Finch typically measures around 12.5 to 15 centimetres in length and weighs between 16 to 27 grams. It has a stout bill, short wings, and a notched tail. I like the mixture of red and brown feathers.

While I never see them at my bird feeders, House Finches are primarily seed-eaters, consuming a variety of seeds, grains, and fruits. Their diet may also include small insects during the breeding season. They are often found in urban and suburban areas, as well as open woodlands and shrubby habitats. House Finches are known for their melodious songs, which consist of a series of varied notes and trills.

House Finches are monogamous and form pairs during the breeding season. They build cup-shaped nests using twigs, grasses, and other plant materials, usually in trees, shrubs, or human-made structures.

Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata)

I was out in Institute Woods walking around for almost an hour. Finally opportunity and prepared combined and I got this shot.

Most of my Blue Jay sightings have been at the bird feeder in my backyard. The Blue Jay in the wild has been too quick moving and often hides out in the thicket making photography challenging. I was out in Institute Woods walking around for almost an hour. Finally opportunity and prepared combined and I got this shot.

The Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata) is known for their vibrant blue plumage and distinctive crest. But they are often heard before they are seen.

While their vocal repertoire is varied and complex, the sound I hear the most is a series of loud, harsh "jay-jay" calls, which are used for communication and to signal alarm. Sometimes, Blue Jays mimic the calls of hawks to deceive other birds and deter predators. Additionally, they produce a variety of other sounds, including whistles, clicks, and gurgles.

Female Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis)

I don’t see Female Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) quite as often as I see the flamboyant red-coloured males.

I don’t see Female Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) quite as often as I see the vibrabt red-coloured males. The female Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) has a more subtle yet elegant appearance. Unlike the vibrant red plumage of the male, the female sports a more subdued colouration, featuring a warm brownish-grey overall with reddish tinges on the wings, tail, and crest. Her crest is also less pronounced compared to the male's prominent crest.

Female Northern Cardinals are known to exhibit shy and cautious behaviour, spending much of their time foraging for seeds and insects on the ground or in low shrubs and bushes. They are skilled nest builders, constructing cup-shaped nests using twigs, grasses, and other plant materials, typically hidden in dense vegetation for protection.

Northern Cardinals are adaptable birds that thrive in a variety of habitats, including woodlands, forest edges, gardens, and suburban areas with ample shrubbery and trees. The male bird's melodic songs and striking presence make them a favourite among birdwatchers.