What is that beautiful and unusually feathered friend eyeing me from the distant safety of a tree limb. He looks identical to a House Finch but rather than a bright pinkish red head, this boy’s feathers are shaded in hues of yellow, orange, coral, and pink.
He foraged along with the other House Finches, took a brief nap, and then departed. I couldn’t wait to get home and learn more about why this House Finch was so striking in plumage.
According to several online sites, the color of the male House Finch feathers results from 3 carotenoid pigments: ß-carotene, which produces yellow to orange color in feathers; isocryptoxanthin, which produces orange color in feathers; and echinenone, which produces red color in feathers. Yellow House Finches are frequently seen in the southwest and Hawaii where natural foods are low in some of these carotenoids. In the east, birds often feed on the high-carotenoid fruits of ornamental plants. For comparison sake, you can see in the first clip the more typical color of a male House Finch at this time of year.