Another first for the backyard the other day…a pair of Purple Finches visited the sunflower feeder. They typically breed north of me in the cool, coniferous Canadian forests, and most of the U.S. population winters south of me in the eastern U.S. in mixed woods, hedgerows, and open fields, so I rarely see them.
Often described as a sparrow dipped in raspberry jam or juice, the male Purple Finch has a rosy pink glow from the top of his head to the base of his tail, and in bright stripes down his breast and flanks.
Male purple finches might be confused with male House Finches, but their color is much pinker (than the red of a House Finch male), and extends much further down their body.
A male House Finch for comparison. Brown stripes cover its flanks, and the red color is usually seen only on head, neck and breast (not the back and flanks).
What a handsome guy!
Pink everywhere — it seems hard to mistake a male Purple Finch.
Quite unlike her mate, the female Purple Finch is streaked with brown and has a thick brown stripe through the eye. Their thick bill is useful for crushing large seeds, or extracting nectar by crushing the base of flowers. In the summer, they consume a lot of insects; in the winter, mostly seeds, fruits, and berries.