Purple FinchCarpodacus purpureus

adult male, Eastern
Garth McElroy/VIREO
immature (1st yr) , Eastern
Rick and Nora Bowers/VIREO
adult female, Eastern
Gerard Bailey/VIREO
adult male, Pacific
Glenn Bartley/VIREO
adult male, Eastern
Garth McElroy/VIREO
Purple Finch

Family

Description

5 1/2-6 1/2" (14-17 cm). Larger and stockier than House Finch, but smaller than Cassin's and darker than both. Dusky rose-red of male, more raspberry than purple, extends from upperparts to breast and flanks, brightest at crown and rump. Off-white below, mantle streaked with brown, wings and notched tail brown. Female has pronounced light stripe behind eye, dark stripe on jaw, and more heavily streaked breast than female House or Cassin's Finches.

Voice

Rich musical warble. Call a distinctive tick in flight.

Listen

vireo-like song given in presence of a hawk
song #3
song #2
song #1
pik calls
extended song

Habitat

Mixed and coniferous woodlands; ornamental conifers in gardens.

Range

Breeds from British Columbia east to Newfoundland, southward in western mountains to California and from eastern Minnesota east to West Virginia. Winters south to U.S.-Mexico border.

Discussion

Purple Finches are numerous and conspicuous during spring migration; pairs are territorial, the brightly colored male displaying in front of the female with his rich, spirited, warbling song. After the clutch is raised, they may be seen in large flocks visiting orchards, parks, and other woodlands. In winter they visit feeding stations in large numbers, showing a fondness for sunflower seeds.

Nesting

4 or 5 blue-green eggs, spotted at the larger end with dark brown, in a well-made cup of grasses and twigs, often lined with hair, placed in a conifer.

Similar Species

adult male

Common Redpoll

5-5 1/2" (13-14 cm). Smaller than a sparrow. Pale, brown-streaked, with bright red cap and black chin. Male has pink breast.

adult male

Hoary Redpoll

4 1/2-5 1/2" (11-14 cm). Smaller than a sparrow. Similar to the Common Redpoll but slightly paler, with a smaller bill and an unstreaked rump and undertail coverts.

adult male

Pine Siskin

4 1/2-5" (11-13 cm). A dark, streaked finch with notched tail and small patches of yellow in wings and tail.

adult male

Cassin's Finch

6-6 1/2" (15-17 cm). Larger than both House and Purple Finches.

adult male

House Finch

5-6" (13-15 cm). Sparrow-sized. Most adult males bright red on crown, breast, and rump, but less extensively so than male Cassin's and Purple Finches.

adult male

Black Rosy-Finch

5 1/2-6 1/2" (14-17 cm). Male is dark blackish-brown, with conspicuous gray cap, black forehead, and much pink on belly, rump, wings, and tail.

adult male, breeding

Brown-capped Rosy-Finch

5 3/4-6 1/2" (15-17 cm). Mostly light brown, without gray crown patch of closely related Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch and Black Rosy-Finch. Rump, wing, and belly pinkish rose. Female chiefly brown.

adult male

Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch

5 3/4-6 3/4" (15-17 cm). Dark brown back and underparts; black forehead; gray nape and crown; pink shoulder and rump. Face gray in coastal birds, brown in interior populations.

adult male

Red Crossbill

5 1/4-6 1/2" (13-17 cm). Sparrow-sized. Mandibles crossed at tips. Male dusky brick red. Female gray tinged with dull green, brightest on rump. White-winged Crossbill has 2 white wing bars.

adult male

White-winged Crossbill

6-6 1/2" (15-17 cm). Size of a largish sparrow. Mandibles crossed at tips. Male raspberry-pink; females grayer, without pink. Both sexes have 2 white wing bars.

adult male

Pine Grosbeak

8-10" (20-25 cm). A large plump finch. Stubby, strongly curved black bill. Male has dull rose-red body, with dark streaking on back, dark wings with 2 white wing bars, and dusky, notched tail.

adult male

Vermilion Flycatcher

6" (15 cm). Male has brilliant scarlet crown and underparts, with dark brown back, wings, and tail; female similar to male above but white below with dark streaks.

Vireo

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