A Year on Clear Lake-Jun 29, 2013

Red All Over–June 29, 2013

Record heat–107 degrees today. Ouch! Ventured out late in the day, which was a great plan. Surprisingly it wasn’t bad. The sun was low in the sky and the breeze tempered what heat remained.

I spotted a little group of  House Finches. This small red bird is native to western U.S. and Mexico, but back in the ’30s, someone in New York got the bright idea to sell them as “Hollywood finches.” However, the street savvy New Yorkers didn’t buy it, so the birds were eventually set loose. They quickly began breeding and have spread across the eastern part of the U.S. and Canada. In the meantime, the west coast natives began expanding their territory eastward. They were first reported in the Houston/Galveston area in 2006. It is estimated that today there are anywhere from 267 million to 1.4 billion individual house finches thriving in North America these days.

Another interesting fact reported by Cornell Lab of Ornithology is that the red pigment of the male house finch is the result of what the finch eats during molt. (By the way, females are a grayish brown with streaks.) They do not make the color directly, which also explains why one can sometimes find the orange or yellowish males. Females prefer to mate with the reddest male in hopes they can provide for a nest full of young ones.

My guess – this male’s abundant red color is a product of the healthy pyracantha bushes (and their red berries) that thrive on the peninsular.

The shore birds seemed appreciative that the day’s heat was ending and night was on its way, as they began to take their places among the grass and rocks.

Green Thought: If the sight of the blue skies fills you with joy,
if a blade of grass springing up in the fields has power to move you, if the simple things of nature have a message that you understand, rejoice, for your soul is alive. ~ Eleonora Duse