just passing through

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.

male purple finch

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.

male house finch

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).

male purple finch

What a handsome guy!

male purple finch

Pink everywhere — it seems hard to mistake a male Purple Finch.

female 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.

6 thoughts on “just passing through

  1. They are so pretty! Today I saw a house finch in a flower bed and it looked as though he was struggling to fly. He sat still as I approached and when I put my finger under his breast and touched him he took off and flew straight up.

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