When I heard the “feed-me” call, I recognized it as the begging cry of fledgling Purple Finches. Persistent and seemingly never-ending, the “feed-me, feed-me, feed-me” was coming from the area most frequented by these pretty finches.
But is was May 20th, WAY too early for young Purple Finches to be emerging from a nest. I had a suspicion about the source of the call and had to seek it out. I’d just seen full grown Blue Jays in early May acting like children - wing quivering and begging - but in this case, to form a pair bond between birds. I've seen and heard it with chickadees as well - kid-like behavior exhibited well before young birds are expected to fledge.
I followed the “feed-me, feed-me” solo halfway up the tree and saw a clearly adult male Purple Finch. At this time of year, only an adult male is that beautiful cranberry color all over - no young finches have earned those colors yet. And off on a nearby branch was an apparent female purply. I say “apparent” because at this time of year, last year’s males aren’t cranberry either. They’ll molt into their colorful plumage this fall.
The beautiful male was wooing a mate, crouching with shoulders low, rear end up, beak up, and wings a-fluttering. And vocalizing with that incessant “feed-me” call I had typically associated with their young.
It was beautiful to watch and listen to this pretty male serenading his girl. He had her attention but sometimes you have to work hard to get the things you want. She took off, with her amorous suitor following behind.