So if you were not present at our last Audubon Meeting....Becky brought up a real interesting point and it essentially has to do with our "OWN BACK YARD" and "HOLLYWOOD".
What you ask? I am not a part of that Hollywood crowd, ...no fan-fare...no limo's, and women in skimpy see-thru outfits. But yes, you are part of Hollywood for you, you see...my friend.....have House Finches at your feeders and in your backyard and all over the place, right?
Okay...it all started with Hollywood....or perhaps with the early hobby of bird watching which was bird collecting and caging. People have collected birds for years and there was a growing demand for birds and the black market, per se. Back in 1939, there was an illegal bird trading industry (International Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918) going on marketing to the rich and presenting them with birds to place in their gilded cages. Sure, parrots and other exotic tropical birds but now, House Finches joined the mix. Illegal trading occurred within our own borders as some birds which were not native to a particular area were sold. One particular bird was the House Finch, ....native to the Southwestern part of our country and Mexico.
House Finches were illegally traded in the larger cities of the east, such as NYC. A nice looking bird but oh, so sadly given a boring name of House Finch. Thinking that I am illegal distributor of birds, a likely conversation just might have been....
"Come on Bud, if we are to convince these bird brains who have dough to spend on us, we can't call these things, house finches...nah we need a name like a dame in red. Hey, I got an idea...the Garbo Finch...or the Harlow Special......hmmm...They sing like Dietrich, or ...Wait a minute. Hollywood...yeah mac, they even have that giant 'H" on the hill..Let's convince these stuffy rich people that they can all own a 'piece of the action'...how about Hollywood Finch? "
Hence the name was born.... Hollywood Finch, and thus the illegal bird trade industry took upon itself to bring out thousands for distribution, well, I mean sell (at a premium). And since the Hollywood Finch was so easy to keep in captivation since its diet was just regular bird seed, this became an instant lottery winner with pet stores. Illegal or not, the "Coppers' had better things to do with their time, such as collect illegal graffe's from liquor dealers, so tracking down illegal Hollywood Finch Traders was not high on their list. In fact, it wasn't until the 1940's when the illegality of selling exotic birds began to take force. By now, every pet store in NYC had these birds. So to avoid prosecution, they simply opened up their cages and doors and well, the rest is history. This deluge of birds began to become apparent as people started noticing them breeding on Long Island. These Hollywood types spread from the Island to the Mainland, sort of speaking. The population of finches endemic to the American Southwest, immediately began to 'grow into their wings and begin occupying other regions, as they do now.
The House Finch was known as the Mexican Finch at one time....but even before become widespread in the east coast, it was rapidly moving up and down the west, out of Arizona, New Mexico and Mexico and into the panhandle of Oklahoma in 1925, British Columbia in 1937.
I know we always look at how 'man' has created obstacles for birds and we research ways to protect our bird populations. But here is a case on the east coast where a few dozen birds were released in the 1940's and now number in the millions perhaps. This is a bird which is amazingly adaptable.