Tuesday, February 1, 2011

WBW-11 The Purple House Finch

Carpodacus mexicanus

I probably should have saved the recent Cliff Swallow post for the WBW but I didn't realize it was so close to Wednesday already! SO I decided to post about the purple house finch! (never heard of it you say) These two species are so similar that I just started calling them the purple house finch when I saw them at the feeders getting lazy about gathering info to make a positive ID-- and with that newly created word purple house finch I had it covered either way-RIGHT? But as all serious birders must do...I recanted and started to get serious again and stop being so lazy---So here is my comparison data for you to ponder and maybe you have a species you do this with also (like the black capped chickadee and the Carolina chickadee)...the differences are so subtle that honestly most of the time I CANT TELL them apart! So this is an adult male house finch-sometimes he is quite red (photo left)--but if I can see the side of the face like the shots below I look for the bolder looking eye streak that is present in the Purple Finch (right)
not so prominent in the house ( left)

Male Purple Finch -Carpodacus purpureus

Male House Finch

To me the Purple Finch has a darker chocolate brown feather color on his back and wings and the red is more purplish looking rather than regal red--and they have less streaking on the chest...but the females in comparison have heavy streaking and the Purple Finch Female has a noticeable eye streak where the house finch female doesn't.  The females are easier to ID to me.
                                                                                                                     purple finch female
house finch female               

Another female purple finch
Here in my area the Midlands of SC I see more Purple Finches in Fall and Winter, more House Finch in Spring, Summer, & Fall, so sometimes they are there together!
If you want to participate or just enjoy blogs about other Birds from around the world click this link and YOU don't have to be a Bird Watcher to join in--just enjoy sharing what you bring back from your explorations and adventures into nature.


  1. Excellent post providing the comparisons Dixxe

    My nemasis are Willow and Marsh Tits UNLESS they happen to be calling!

  2. Beautiful little birds very well captured. Great info also.

  3. Only 3 states to go --- well, then what :-)
    BTW, that profile image has me wondering: pearls of wisdom floating out of your mouth?
    Your detailed descriptions do you credit. I am only about a decade behind you in bird recognition.

    Thanks for stopping by - and you might have been right.

  4. Nice info..... backed up with lovely images.

    Check out my blog, these are very similar to the Mealy and Lesser Redpolls.

    Fascinating when two species are very similar and the sometimes very subtle differences

  5. Great post Dixxe!! Boom & Gary of the Vermilon River.

  6. I fully understand the being lazy part.
    I recently tried to understand Isabelline Shrikes and I still try to grasp the Gulls... oh well :)

    Love it that you did your job here well and the photos are awesome!

  7. I sometimes find it challanging to id a bird. I'll pull out all my books, go to various sites on the web and will still be unsure. Sometimes an individual bird just doesn't seem to fit the norm.

  8. Very informative post with the comparisons. :)

  9. Excellent photos and comparisons of these two birds. Fortunately - perhaps - those are two we don't have in this county!

  10. Lovely pictures Dixxe.
    Some birds can be a real problem trying to ID; so similar.

  11. If you say so. I can only properly identify our bird if I have a good photo or twenty and can spread it on the full screen.
    I like your finches whatever their proper names.

  12. Nice comparison of the two finches! They are easy to mix up, particularly at a distance. To me, Purple is cold red, House warm red, Purple high forehead, House flat forehead.

  13. A fascinating post with lovely photos! In addition to Frank's mention of the similarity between the Marsh and Willow Tit we also have the Chiffchaff and the Willow Warbler to try to differentiate between, we are home and dry if the Chiffchaff is calling its name to us though :)

    As usual I am catching up Dixxe and thoroughly enjoyed your post concerning animal's souls. I completely agree with you and thought your sentence at the end summed it up beautifully
    'I believe animals have souls and they can speak, how do you know they dont, just because they've never spoken to you?'
    That says it all for me! I have often said that if they could speak our language or we theirs we would realise they are equal to us and not inferior as many ignorant people seem to think!

    I also enjoyed the post and photos of the Cliff Swallows.

  14. Lots of house finches around our feeders (southwestern Ohio)but no purple finches. Both are pretty little birds and well-captured in your photos.

  15. OMG thank you so much for this post. I am so much clearer on these birds now! I'm going to sit in the back yard today, in the rain, and figure these birds out once and for all! LOL

  16. Great post, super comparisons accompanied by your excellent pictures. ~karen

  17. That was the definitive finch differentiation post! Something I sorely needed. Your pictures illustrated your text perfectly.
    Also, the final line of your post "YOU don't have to be a Bird Watcher to join in--just enjoy sharing what you bring back from your explorations and adventures into nature," is so perfectly put I pinched it word for word and added it to the WBW 3 easy steps section. True Spirit Dixxe.
    Hope you don't mind!

  18. Excellent comparison shots Dixxe. You've got to love those species that give you a challenge at identifying them. For me my nemesis is Gulls, especially juveniles. They all look the same!

    Adam @ My Life Outside

  19. Pretty bird -- we used to have a similar one (or maybe it was the same) on our feeders in Oregon when we lived there -- at any rate, it was a house finch! (I am a long-term novice birder.)

    I enjoyed your sidebar comment about traveling. We've now slept (in our RV) in 47 states. Love the traveling life!

  20. Really great finch shot collection! Well done.

  21. Great post! Lots of great finches :)

  22. I like to see them together, but I only have the purples for part of the winter into March.I think there is a small size difference, I was surprised to see a female purple this last month where i help band birds when it warms up.

  23. Goodness gracious- purple house finch it is!


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