Ever notice how easy it is for our feelings and actions to be influenced by others? Even when that "other" happens to be a male house finch?
I was just about to head outside and scatter a few scoops of cracked corn for the ground feeders when I looked up and saw the finch in the photo huddled like a fluffy tennis ball in the seed feeder near my workroom window. The little bird looked cold. Like a guy at a bus stop who wishes he'd put on that extra sweater before leaving the house, and is now doing everything he can with body configuration to keep from freezing. The finch had his feathers fluffed for maximum insulation, and his breast pointed at the wane winter sun. Gaining a few BTUs appeared more important than eating sunflower seeds.
In all honesty, as winter weather goes, we're still on the mild side. There is some snow on the ground. And when I went out not long after daybreak to toss corn to the ducks, the thermometer read 23˚F…nippy, but not bone-chilling cold. No doubt it was now several degrees warmer. Or so said reason. Not even mildly cold by Ohio standards. Cold is when the thermometer reads a double-digit south of zero and there's a 30-MPH wind whipping along like a cut-throat razor.
Influence called it differently. Seeing that hunched-up finch had its effect. The workroom felt suddenly colder. The snow on the ground beyond the window looked colder, too. My brain got the message, cast logic aside, and convinced my body that maintaining the clothing status quo made survival questionable, whereupon a shiver coursed up my spine like an escaped electrical charge…which I obeyed forthwith, without question, and did immediately exchange my jacket for a down-filled coat. All because a male finch did a puff-ball pose just outside the window.
And we big ol' macho outdoor guys think we have free will…