My wife and I spotted for the second time what we initially thought was a yellow variant of the House Finch. But this morning, we saw him next to another House Finch at the bird bath and he was notably larger -- we estimate by some 20-25%. Further, he has an outgrowth, or swelling, around his left eye only, and when seen from the side, that area is pink. It would pass for a regular marking if it weren’t one-sided. Finally, what looked like a crest formed by either wet or wind-blown feathers is also a permanent feature.
We’ve poured over our books, and we keep coming back to House Finch. But clearly an anomalous one, if we are correct. Does anyone have any ideas about what we’re seeing?
Without a photo, I can't tell you what you saw, though House Finches do come in variants with yellow in place of red. Furthermore, there is an eye infection in Houses Finches that sounds like what you saw; Google "finch eye disease" for more information.
I have seen more anomalies of the House Finch than any other bird at our house, including yellow and orange and ones with growth on their heads, but the much bigger size really has me wondering. Have you looked at the beak really closely? Is it the same? Three of my books show the Yellow variant.
Thank you, Bosque Bill. After checking Google Images and reading about the spread of the eye disease among finches first documented in the '90s, we are convinced this is what we saw. (A couple of those images also show the ruffled feathers that, depending on location and angle, suggest a crest.)
And Sarahjmd, we are doubting our own evaluation of the size of the finch. We saw what we saw -- but now, we need to see it again, and next to another House Finch again, to be sure. The beak was all finch, and no cross bill, and the markings were all House Finch. To us, at least.
We'll keep watching and will report anything new. Thanks again.
Back in February of 2009, I was at work (near Yale and Coal), taking a break, watching birds on our porch. They were rather boring (same old same old), so I thought "Wow, I'd sure like to see a yellow bird..."
I swear, within fifteen minutes:
Perfectly healthy, just yellow rather than red. I also later on in the week saw one that was orange rather than red (including on the back), and have seen combinations of red, orange, yellow, as well. Just one of those interesting things. I haven't seen any of these birds lately though, not in a year or two.
what beautiful birds