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Purple Finch - BirdForum Opus

Photo © by RCHines
Whitewright, Texas, USA, 17 February 2021
Haemorhous purpureus

Carpodacus purpureus


Female, nominate subspecies
Photo © Bill Garber
Richmond, Indiana, USA, 18 April 2009

6 ins (15.5 cm)

  • Raspberry red on head, breast, back and rump
  • Streaked back


  • Light brown upperparts
  • White underparts with dark brown streaks
  • White supercilium

Like the House Finch, it has a rare golden-yellow variant of the normal red plumage.

Similar Species

House Finch has brown streaks on belly, less red on head, smaller bill, longer tail, and different call. Cassin's Finch has a paler throat and breast, streaked undertail coverts, and larger bill.


Yellow-orange variant
Photo © by ducbucln
Kelseyville, California, 21 January 2016

Canada and both the western and eastern United States. Winters south as far as the U.S.-Mexico border.


Photo © by Deerbird
Kentucky, USA, 31 March 2021

Formerly placed in genus Carpodacus.


This is a polytypic species consisting of two subspecies:1

  • H. p. purpureus: (Eastern) (Gmelin, 1789):
  • H. p. californicus (Western) (S. F. Baird, 1858):


Coniferous and mixed forest, as well as various wooded areas along the U.S. Pacific coast.


They have been displaced from some habitat by House Sparrows and then the introduction of House Finches in the east.


They forage in trees and bushes, sometimes in ground vegetation. They mainly eat seeds, berries, buds and blossoms, usually from outer branches of trees and sometimes from the ground.


The nest, a cup of twigs and grass and usually lined with hair, is built in a conifer. The 3-5 light greenish blue eggs, are marked with brown and black; they are incubated for 13 days by the female.


Song is a mellow, rich warbling.
Call is a sharp pik in flight.

Listen in an external program Listen to a Purple Finch song clip
Recording © by Joseph Morlan
Pacifica, California, 02 May 2020

In Culture

This is the state bird of New Hampshire.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, S. M. Billerman, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2019. The eBird/Clements Checklist of Birds of the World: v2019. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. ITIS Standard Report Page: Carpodacus purpureus its.gov
  3. Wootton, J. T. (2020). Purple Finch (Haemorhous purpureus), version 1.0. In Birds of the World (A. F. Poole and F. B. Gill, Editors). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bow.purfin.01
  4. Clement, P. (2020). Purple Finch (Haemorhous purpureus). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from https://www.hbw.com/node/61387 on 24 April 2020).

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