On How to Woo a Female Finch

Frogs are croaking, insects are hatching, and the mini-daffs are in bloom. It’s spring! These days I wake to the glorious song of the House Finches, whose song first piqued my curiosity about birdsong.

The male House Finch teaches his particular dialect of the "House Finch song" to his male offspring.

In spring, the male House Finch teaches his particular dialect of the “House Finch song” to his male offspring.

Did you ever wonder (as I did) how such tiny creatures belted out such beautiful melodies? The answer lies partly in the fact that they have two voice boxes (syringes) that they coordinate, using air expelled through two bronchi, as they sing. This mechanism allows finches to sing two intertwined tunes at once, creating one gorgeously complex song.

Female finches consider plumage and song when they choose a mate.

Female finches consider plumage and song when they choose a mate.

The more complex the song, and the redder the plumage, the more likely she is to say ‘yes’.

A female House Finch keeps one eye open as she cleans up the syrup around the hummer feeder.

A female House Finch keeps one eye open as she cleans up the syrup around the hummer feeder.

This assertive yet poetic female, frustrated by the lack of mating finesse of the House Finches in the yard, decides to share a few tips …

On How to Woo Me

Let’s get this straight: it’s not your size or sparkling eyes that interest me.
What rattles my feathers, what makes me bill
Is just the right colour and just the right song.
I’m looking for RED, a head as red as red as can be
And a song – a song that’s big and loud and long
Longer than those other guys.

And maybe try that butterfly dive some of your fellow finches do
Fly way up high above the trees
Then glide my way your throat on fire
With gorgeous tones that tease and please: now that might do the trick.

Maybe then I’ll let you gently poke my bill
Maybe then I’ll bow and droop my wings
And flutter like a sweet young thing, all timid and submissive
And let you feed me seeds and knotwood, thistle, fruit.
Maybe then we’ll plan to make some baby birds
In April, when the daffodils are out.

Yes! It worked!!

The happy couple. (Moral: never be too shy to ask for what you want!)

The happy couple. (Moral: never be too shy to ask for what you want!)

And perhaps, a few months down the road …

A young House Finch posing for the camera

A young House Finch posing for the camera

This entry was posted in Bird Canada, Bird Conservation Canada, Songbirds and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to On How to Woo a Female Finch

  1. Sharon says:

    Thanks Zulis. Writing the poem was fun!

  2. Zulis Yalte says:

    Love the images, the story of the twinned voice/song and depth of song resonating depth of colour… love the poem. Great entry Sharon McInnes! Thanks for sharing

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