Male Cassin’s Finches Foraging in Beaverhead County, Montana

/, Birds, Cassin's Finches, Centennial Valley, Montana/Male Cassin’s Finches Foraging in Beaverhead County, Montana

Curious male Cassin's FinchCurious male Cassin’s Finch – Nikon D810, f6.3, 1/1600, ISO 640, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

Two years ago today I was in Beaverhead County, Montana photographing Cassin’s Finches foraging on the seeds of dandelions on a morning that had sunshine and plenty of fog. I was fortunate that when I had the finches in my viewfinder that I had beautiful light because just a mile or two further east and the heavy fog obscured my view of many of the birds I saw.

Cassin’s Finch males look like their heads and shoulders have been dipped in raspberry juice and that always makes me smile because one of my favorite things to eat as a small child and farmer’s daughter was “berries & cream”, home canned raspberries and fresh cream skimmed right off the top of the milk in the milk tin. Only I pronounced “berries” as “burries”.  I liked that for dessert more than ice cream as I recall.

Male Cassin's Finch plucking seeds from DandelionsMale Cassin’s Finch plucking seeds from Dandelions – Nikon D810, f6.3, 1/1000, ISO 640, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

It was great to photograph the Cassin’s Finches but it was also interesting to watch them stretch out to grab the dandelion seeds from the barbed wire fence. Normally I would delete this image because I can’t see the eye of the finch but I kept it because of the bird’s pose as it reached for a seed.

Male Cassin's Finch foraging for Dandelion seedsMale Cassin’s Finch foraging for Dandelion seeds – Nikon D810, f6.3, 1/1250, ISO 640, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

There weren’t many seeds left after the small flock of Cassin’s Finches finished foraging on the dandelions near the fence. The finches took off very quickly but I sure enjoyed them while I had them in my sight two years ago in Montana.

Life is good.



  1. Elephants Child June 11, 2017 at 1:55 pm

    Yet another beautiful bird.
    And hooray for dandelions.

  2. Pepe Forte June 11, 2017 at 11:48 am

    Love the pics and your narrative. The colors are incredible. Thanks Mia.

  3. April Olson June 11, 2017 at 11:08 am

    Beautiful photos. I just had a conversation about dandelions being a good food source for finches, my I share your photo with them from Facebook?

    • Mia McPherson June 11, 2017 at 11:16 am

      Thanks April and you certainly may.

  4. Bill Sterling June 11, 2017 at 10:44 am

    We have House Finches in abundance. A friend thinks we also have Purple Finches. I would welcome your coaching, Mia, on distinguishing among the three species … a Finch tutorial with pictures.

  5. Liz Cormack June 11, 2017 at 8:47 am

    Oh, my, what a sweet little bird. I love the top view of the finch reaching down for seeds.

  6. Patty Chadwick June 11, 2017 at 8:39 am

    A bird dipped in raspberry juice is a great description…makes my mouth water! We had a small stream with watercress and a patch of blackberries and raspberries in the field, but got little of either as strangers would swoop in like a swarm of locusts, rip out the watercress, pick the berries (and trample the bushes)and clean us out of both…when we kids picked what was left of the berries, we had to watch out for snakes that would lie on top of the bushes in order to catch unsuspecting birds……strange how people feel free to help themselves to rural stuff….they also helped themselves to our neighbors apples and pears….i especially like the top view, reaching down for the seeds…it looks like he might have stepped on a barb of that damned Devil’s wire in the third image….

    • April Olson June 11, 2017 at 11:03 am

      Patty, my parents have a wooded acre with nicely mowed lawns in Centerville, Ut. Everything on that acre is edible in some way. It has been amazing how many people seem to think it is a public park and help themselves to the fruits of my parents hard work. My mom has many funny stories of chasing strangers out of the yard before they eat all her fruit.

      • Patty Chadwick June 11, 2017 at 1:58 pm

        Crazy! How can they be so dense??? It can be a real problem when you depend on canned home grown food…as we did. They also used to feed whole apples to the horse without quartering or even halving them. The whole apples would get stuck in her throat and I’d have to massage her to get them down–often in tears because I was afraid she would choke to death. They’d come right onto our property to do this. We were told our property and the horse were considered “an attractive nuisance” and therefore,if anyone got injured on it or by her, they could sue us!!! I never trusted lawyers after hearing that….

  7. Bob mcphersons June 11, 2017 at 5:55 am

    BeAutiful photos, MiA.

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