The housefinch looks quite similar to the purple finch, which also has large areas of reddish color. The color purple didn’t have its own name until fairly recently; before that, the word “purple” was used for red, and that’s when the purple finch was named.
It’s interesting to see how words for colors have gotten more specific over the years. I’ve read that the oldest written mentions of colors refer only to light and dark, and then later red started being mentioned, followed gradually by the rest of the colors, one or two at a time. Some languages still have the same word for blue and green. It gets really complicated the more cultures and languages you study, though: see this article.
TEXT OF COMIC:
So what birds are you watching?
That sparrow and that housefinch over there. They totally seem to like each other too much. I wonder if the sparrow can’t tell the other bird is a housefinch.
The housefinch is bright red. Of course he can tell.
But humans are the only animals that can see color, right?
Eesh. That sentence needs SO many added specifications.
Humans AND OTHER OLD WORLD PRIMATES are the only MAMMALS that can see MORE THAN TWO PRIMARY COLORS.
Other primates like gorillas and chimps can see the same three primary colors we can. Other mammals can still see two primary colors. And birds can see FOUR of them!
From a bird’s viewpoint, YOU’RE partly colorblind! If that sparrow has a crush on that housefinch, he is fully conscious of his interspecies fetish.
I am so glad I have that knowledge in my head now.
MOUSEOVER TEXT: the housefinch is really just a sparrow blushing at all the romantic attention