Friday, February 22, 2008

Purple Finch at the Feeder

I had a new feeder visitor this beautiful snowy morning. It's a female Purple Finch. I haven't seen a male yet, but the female is a treat. To me, it's much easier to decide if I'm seeing a purple finch or a house finch by looking at the females.

When I see the males, especially at some distance or in poor light, I'm always asking if the color is more strawberry (house finch) or more purple (purple finch). Usually, I change my mind eleventy-eight times, and even then I won't be sure I'm right.

But the females make the identification an easy one. See that nice eye line on this bird? Purple finch. Female house finch don't have the eye line. The female purple finch's belly stripes are also more defined and paler than the female house finch's. So when I see finches and can't figure out which variety I'm seeing, I look for the females in the group, and that makes the identification an easy one.


Seabrooke said...

Nice bird to having coming to your feeder! The females are very striking. For the males, I like to think of the male Purple Finches as having been held by their feet and dipped in a cup of raspberry juice, the purple suffuses all their upper-body feathers. The House Finch males have their strawberry-red colour in more discrete patches, through the crown, cheeks and breast, and on the rump, but the wings and back are brown. Of course, if he's consorting with a female, that does help the ID, too! :)

Chris said...

What a beautiful picture of your female purple finch! Nice work.

Kathryn and Ari said...

Greetings from a log cabin in Maine! We've had a few purple finches here along with a really vibrant community of pine siskins and purple grosbeaks. They're so beautiful.

Carolyn H said...

All: I still haven't seen a male purple finch at my feeders, though the female has returned a time or two. It's been a good winter--redpolls, siskins and now purple finch. Perhaps there's still hope for a pine grosbeak!

Carolyn H.

Anonymous said...

I've been told that for the most part male Purple Finches arrive with the females in the fall but then usually head further north. This has been my experience this past year as initially there were some males around but for the last 4 months all I have seen are females. I agree that females are far easier to pick out than the males.