Kay Loughman

Hi Sylvia,
FWIW, Neither the Alameda County nor the Contra Costa County Breeding Bird Atlas mention Cassin's Finch. 

My birding notes for Cassin's Finch show "up to 3 males and 3 females seen 11/8-11/23/1996" at our feeders, and another 11/14-16/2000.  

As you may remember we're at about 900 ft on the side of Claremont Canyon.  In 1996 (only five years after the Oakland hills fire) we didn't have any mature vegetation, although our property is only one block from Garber Park, which has oaks, and which did not burn in the fire.

I checked Cassin's Finch in Bird of the World online, and found this intriguing comment:  "In winter the birds drift southward and to lower elevations. At this time they may visit bird feeders regularly until they depart for the high country early in spring, though their occurrence at any given locality is highly variable from year to year. Despite the prevalence of this finch, remarkably little detailed work has been done on it, leaving many possibilities for new discoveries."

Hope others who post on this subject will "reply all."

Kay Loughman
in the hills on the Berkeley-Oakland border

Sylvia Sykora wrote on 6/23/2020 7:40 PM:

For two months last winter I had a small group (3-4) of male and female Cassin’s Finches using the bird bath in my Oakland hills garden and appearing, usually as a group, regularly.   They last were seen mid-February.  Since then there have been no finches here, neither House nor Purple.  On 30 May I saw a male Cassin's, again at the water, and over the weeks since have seen, separately, both male and female birds on several occasions.  These birds appear identical - perhaps slightly brighter? - to the winter birds.  This seems so utterly unlikely that had I not seen the same birds in the same location within recent months, I would not have considered this ID in spite of noting all diagnostics and being familiar with the breeding bird in the Sierra.  Winter sightings in the East Bay Hills are not unknown.  Could this possibly be a breeding pair?  I have no photos but have seen the birds from as close as seven feet, with and without glasses.   This location at 1400’ in the Oakland Hills, is one block from Redwood Regional Park and has large numbers of conifers and oaks.

I’d be grateful for comments and insights from others.

Thank you,
Sylvia Sykora

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