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How to identify a Purple vs House Finch ? (1 Viewer)

When the distance is close, say, 10-20ft, I usually have no trouble (unless its a juvenile or female!) , but beyond that, I find it difficult to tell these 2 species apart. Normally, I look for the amount of raspberry coloring on the breat, wings and upper body, as Purple Finches tend to have more--but you cant always count on this due to individual variations in color/markings; Any other tips to help discern the difference between these 2? Thanks :)
 

Deb Burhinus

Used to be well known! 😎
Europe
Hi welcome to Birdforum! πŸ™‚

You may find this link helpful - note the amount of plum red on male Purple Finch - females/immatures are harder but note the type of streaking on the flanks and the difference in face pattern of male and female of each species - Purple Finch has a stronger face pattern than House Finch
 
Hi welcome to Birdforum! πŸ™‚

You may find this link helpful - note the amount of plum red on male Purple Finch - females/immatures are harder but note the type of streaking on the flanks and the difference in face pattern of male and female of each species - Purple Finch has a stronger face pattern than House Finch
Yes, more red definitely on the breast and wings . I see what your saying about the streak pattern--thats good!! Might be hard to see from a distance though. Isnt the Purple finchs song pattern a little bit lower and more shrill than the house Finch?
 

Deb Burhinus

Used to be well known! 😎
Europe
Yes, more red definitely on the breast and wings . I see what your saying about the streak pattern--thats good!! Might be hard to see from a distance though. Isnt the Purple finchs song pattern a little bit lower and more shrill than the house Finch?
I’m not sure I would call it β€˜more shrill’ but you can compare them here

 

Deb Burhinus

Used to be well known! 😎
Europe
Bill shape ? How so? Look the same to me
Yes bills are very similar as noted above, the upper mandible curved more steeply to the tip in House Finch but not a very easy criteria to use in the field imo - as rkj says, from a distance, the face pattern is probably more helpful - note on males Purple Finch the ear coverts are dark reddish on House Finch, the ear coverts are brown.
 

birdmeister

Well-known member
United States
Yes bills are very similar as noted above, the upper mandible curved more steeply to the tip in House Finch but not a very easy criteria to use in the field imo - as rkj says, from a distance, the face pattern is probably more helpful - note on males Purple Finch the ear coverts are dark reddish on House Finch, the ear coverts are brown.
Deb has pointed out a great feature for IDing males. While House Finches can show very bright coloring on the face and chest (sometimes even down the back), House will always show that slice of brown on the face. House Finch's wings are always brownish, too, with tan wing bars. Purple Finch truly looks "dipped" in pinkish-red all over, except for the white lower belly.

In flight, too, the strongly notched tail is a good pointer as is the call. House Finches give a variety of calls in flight (tough for me to describe), but Purples give a frequent and distinctive "pik". It sounds a bit like plucking a string on a tiny guitar, quite metallic and clipped.
 
Deb has pointed out a great feature for IDing males. While House Finches can show very bright coloring on the face and chest (sometimes even down the back), House will always show that slice of brown on the face. House Finch's wings are always brownish, too, with tan wing bars. Purple Finch truly looks "dipped" in pinkish-red all over, except for the white lower belly.

In flight, too, the strongly notched tail is a good pointer as is the call. House Finches give a variety of calls in flight (tough for me to describe), but Purples give a frequent and distinctive "pik". It sounds a bit like plucking a string on a tiny guitar, quite metallic and clipped.
Excellent tips--Thanks!! I'm sure as I become more adept at this via experience, I can incorporate other Id'ing techniques requiring more expertise (e.g., bird-in-flight call differences) , but for now, the face bar and wings diffs should suffice as a starting point :):)
 

AveryBartels

Well-known member
One of the most reliable things, once you get used to looking for it in each, is the shape. House tend to be a more slender bird with longer tail and slightly smaller head. Purple tend to more compact, chunkier with a shorter tail. Their calls are also very different, though songs are superficially similar.
 
If I can snag a pic of the bird I'm seeing daily, ill post it. Saw him again today and based on the input I'm receiving via this thread, I'm now beginning to think he may be a House Finch, especially because the body does seem to be more slender. Also, I thought I saw the brown face bands and a browner appearance on the wings; another sighting would help confirm, hopefully, at least.
 

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