Friday Feathered Friends-Cassin’s Finch

Copyright ©2021 Deborah M. Zajac. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Back in July I saw this beauty, he was my 7th Lifer for the year!

Cassin’s Finch-Male

They live in the mountains of western North America. I am really surprised that it took me so long to spot one, but it did.

Fun Facts: gleaned from

The Cassin’s Finch was first collected on an 1850s expedition to the southwestern mountains by the Pacific Railroad Survey. The eminent ornithologist John Cassin, who created illustrations for the survey, called the pink-tinged finch the “greatest bird in the lot.” Cassin asked his friend and colleague Spencer Baird to name the new species after him.

Male Cassin’s Finches have red crown feathers thanks to carotenoid pigments, which they acquire when they swallow colorful foods like the orange berries of firethorn plants.

Male Cassin’s Finches remain brownish and look like females during their first breeding season. During this time they sing, and this may give the false impression that both sexes sing. These young males may group into “bachelor flocks” during that first breeding season.

The Cassin’s Finch is an accomplished mimic, often adding the calls of other species into its own songs.

The Cassin’s Finch breeds semicolonially, with nests on average 80 feet apart. Nests are sometimes as close as 3 feet apart—this usually causes a fight between males until one of the pair gives up. If the first nest is substantially earlier than the other, however, such close nesting may be tolerated.

The Cassin’s Finch craves salt, and is often found visiting mineral deposits on the ground.

The oldest recorded Cassin’s Finch was a male, and at least seven years old when he was recaptured and released during banding operations in Oregon in 1979. He had been banded in the same state in 1974. ~

We’re still dealing with a lot of smoke from the two biggest fires in California.

As I type this on Thursday our AQI is bad, but not as awful as it was on Monday when we flew into Reno on our way home from visiting Big Baby Boy, and the Dark Haired Beauty. Monday the AQI was a whopping 398!

I saw the pilots on the way out of the plane and said, “I sure am glad you were able to see to land, because I couldn’t see a thing!” One of the pilots replied, ” We had one eye opened and hoped for the best.” 🤣😜

I’m glad it was the good eye!

He-Man said he was thinking about the scene in the movie Airplane. Flying on instruments LOL!!

I hope you all have a great week-end!!

Fuji X-T3| Fujinon 100-400mm| PS CC 22.5.0

more to come…

41 thoughts on “Friday Feathered Friends-Cassin’s Finch

  1. Great captures of this very cute little bird. We get them here too … usually in a group in the winter when the bears are hibernating, and we can safely put seed out. Initially I thought it was the House or Purple Finches we were so used to seeing Back East.

    I didn’t remember that scene in Airplane but knew what was coming by your hint! That would be a good movie to watch if feeling blue. Still very smoky here after a much too short 2 day break.

    1. Thank you so much, Denise! You’re clever figuring out what was coming on the video. 😂

      It’s so smoky here it’s awful to be outside at all.
      I hope they can get these fires under control and knocked down soon!

  2. What a beauty, congrats on another lifer, Deborah! 🤗 One eye is better than no eyes opened! 😉 Glad you’re back home safely, whew, we’ve seen news images of the smoke being so thick, I cannot imagine what the planes are seeing.

  3. A wonderful find Deborah, and another lifer, so good, that is something we miss here in lock-down. Thank you for the most interesting information on this bird, well researched. Finches are one of the world’s best and most apt survivors in the harshest of climates, and have very interesting social flock structures.

  4. Glad the air quality is at least somewhat better, Deborah, but I hope it improves even more soon. Congrats on another lifer! I really like finches and I found it interesting to read about the cause of the coloration.

  5. I knew nothing about this bird, and am happy to be informed of its existence! That soft, subtle coloring is gorgeous! It’s postcard pretty, so well done.

    I sure am glad your pilots used their one good eye and landed you safely!

  6. Since I have met you, Deborah “Lifers” and birds in general have been in my radar every day on my walks. I am in awe of the exceptionally beautiful photos you share. Interesting about craving salt. I am sorry how smoke is still a significant issue. I used to get a real kick watching the “Airplane” movies. Huge lol on the instruments. Thank you for the reminder and my morning smile.🙂

    1. Thank you so much, Erica!! I’m so glad you’re noticing birds more, and using your tripod!

      It was interesting learning that they need more salt and mimic other birds. I didn’t know those things either.

  7. What a treat to see this Cassin’s finch, Deborah, for you and for us. I have not seen this bird in the wild, and there are not many birds left in Calif. that I can call lifers. I enjoyed the info. Interesting that they are mimics, as other finches are not. You must’ve been thrilled to see it. Air here in the Bay Area is really bad today too, the winds just picked up. Best wishes and thanks to you.

    1. I was so excited to see it and get a decent shot of it too.
      The air here today is really bad. AQI is 394 as I type this. The pilots are going to be using instruments and their good eye again today if they’re flying into the Reno airport. UGH!!

      I hope your air doesn’t get this bad!! Stay safe and well! 😀

  8. He Man had a great thought. I love that movie, and I’m starting this day with a nice little laugh.

    The finch is beautiful. That photo is amazing, Deborah. It looks like the setting was designed just for him. Wonderful composition.

    I hope the fires can be contained (or the area gets some much needed rain) and your skies clear soon. Stay safe, breathe easy and have a nice weekend.

    1. LOL! Thank you so much, Dan! The air is just as bad today as it was on Monday so those pilots are going to be needing those instruments, and good eye again today.

      Isn’t he a handsome bird! We don’t have many red ones out here in the West so it’s really neat to finally see this one.

      I hope you have a good week-end and are able to get some walks with Maddie in.

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