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.