If you’ve kept up with my meanderings around the outdoors for lo these many years, you have no doubt gathered that I have a special fascination with the little critters that flit around my feeders in my yard. I enjoy watching birds, especially those that surprise me when they show up for the first time.

One particular bird that made an initial appearance several years ago apparently found what they liked because if I have seed in the feeder, they’re there off and on all day long.

They’re house finches and until a few years ago, they weren’t here. I did a search for these pretty little birds that look like sparrows except for the rosy color on the head and breast of the males.

Wikipedia has some range maps that show how these birds have increased their range over the past half century or so. Initially, they were confined to Mexico and the western United States, their range extending from California east to western Texas. Around 1980, while the western population remained basically constant, numbers of the birds began growing in the northeast as the finches were sold in New York as cage birds in the 1940s under the name of “Hollywood Finches”.

As they escaped their cages or were released to avoid persecution under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, they have spread eastward so that the two populations have merged and they now inhabit the entire United States.Here’s some of the interesting tidbits Wikipedia provided about these pretty little birds.

“House finches forage on the ground or in vegetation normally. They primarily eat grains, seeds and berries, being voracious consumers of weed seeds such as nettle and dandelion; included are incidental small insects such as aphids. They are frequent visitors to bird feeders throughout the year, particularly if stocked with sunflower seed, and will congregate at hanging thistle sock feeders. The house finch is known to damage orchard fruit and consume commercially grown grain but is generally not considered a significant pest but rather an annoyance.”

Although I have never found a house finch’s nest, I have talked with some others who tell me they have found nests in such things as hanging baskets or other cavities on porches. They will sometimes utilize the same nest in subsequent years and have been known to lay their eggs and raise their broods in nests abandoned by other birds.

In winter, our area is visited by another finch that closely resembles the house finch.

Purple finches are migratory birds that spend winters in the south and have some of the same markings as the house finch. The principal difference is that purple finches are a bit larger and the raspberry coloring is more prominent that that of the house finch. A definite marker is if you see a bird with such marking this time of year, it’s a house finch because purple finches are here only in winter.

Some sources say that where the two species intermingle, the house finch is predominant and eventually crowds out the purple finch.

As a side note, the house finch is not the only fairly new resident to our part of the country. A dove roughly half the size of our mourning dove, is showing up more frequently. My bird book identified this little fellow as an Inca dove that has recently increased its range from the arid west eastward. In addition, a larger dove, the Eurasian Collared Dove, is also a recent resident of our world.

My question now is what has happened to two species of birds that until recent years were common in our area, meadow larks and shrikes (butcher birds). I like the finches and doves but I miss seeing these two former residents.

”House finches have become permanent residents of our area.” Glynn Harris photo


BLACK BAYOU – Bream and crappie are doing best fishing around the trees and bushes. No report on bass. Contact Honey Hole Tackle Shop 323-8707 for latest information.
OUACHITA RIVER – The river is falling and fishing is improving. Catfishing has been good in the river with traps taking a good many fish. Crappie fishing is best in the river lakes. Bass are in the cuts and run-outs with spinners working best. For latest information, contact the Honey Hole Tackle Shop at 323-8707.
LAKE D’ARBONNE – Bass fishing has been best up Corney Creek with topwaters, baby Brush Hogs and spinners picking up fish around the grass and lily pads. Crappie are still hanging around on the flats with some caught fishing 8 feet deep in 12 foot water on shiners or jigs. Bream are on the beds and fishing worms or crickets is working good. Catfish are still biting cold worms fished off the banks. For latest reports, call Anderson’s Sport Center at 368-9669 or Honey Hole Tackle Shop at 323-8707.
LAKE CLAIBORNE – Bream are on the beds and fishing is good on crickets and worms in the shallows. Crappie fishing has been best around the lighted piers at night using shiners with some really nice sized fish being caught around deep brush on shiners or jigs. Bass have been best fishing the back end of creeks such as Bear, Horse and Isaac. Catfishing has been good on trotlines and set hooks using small bream for bait. For latest information, call Misty at Kel’s Cove at 331-2730 or Terzia Tackle at 278-4498.
CANEY LAKE – Bass fishing continues to be fair to good with night fishing picking up some good fish. Coty West hit the jackpot with two lunkers caught on soft plastics that tipped the scales at 11.12 and 8.9 pounds. Crappie are moving out to the deeper tops with those in 17 foot water working best on jigs and shiners. Bream fishing is good around the lake on crickets or worms. No report on catfish. For information contact Hooks Marina at 249-2347, Terzia Tackle at 278-4498 or the Honey Hole Tackle Shop at 323-8707.
LAKE POVERTY POINT –The crappie bite has slowed but plenty of eating-sized catfish are being caught. Bream are fair to good and bass are fair. For latest reports, call Poverty Point Marina at 318/878-0101.
LAKE ST. JOHN – Bass have been fair to good while catfish are fair and bream and crappie have slowed. For information, call Ken Mahoney at 318-201-3821.
LAKE YUCATAN – The water is falling to the point that boats can now be launched. No fishing reports just yet. For information, call Surplus City Landing at 318/467-2259.

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