Purple Finch: A welcomed visitor to the feeder

Photo by Chris Bosak A male Purple Finch eats sunflower seeds from a feeder in New England, Oct. 2014.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A male Purple Finch eats sunflower seeds from a feeder in New England, Oct. 2014.

The Purple Finch doesn’t exactly fit in with my series of “Common Backyard Birds,” but this handsome fellow visited my feeder over the weekend so I’m including it anyway.(No, that’s not your cursor on its bill, that’s a sunflower seed shell.)  It doesn’t fit in with the series because, sadly, the Purple Finch is not really a common backyard sighting in New England. The introduced House Finches certainly are, but the native Purple Finches visit less frequently.

Purple Finches and House Finches can be tricky to differentiate, but that’s mostly because we don’t see enough Purple Finches to get used to their looks. Some particularly colorful House Finches can resemble Purple Finches and throw off the ID. But, as someone once told me long ago, “When you see a Purple Finch, you’ll know it.”

I can differentiate the finches because the Purple Finch is larger and bulkier. Its “purple” (really reddish pink) is also more widespread on its plumage. The females are even more tricky, but again, are bulkier than their House Finch counterparts.

So an October sighting of a Purple Finch was most welcomed. Hopefully it’s a sign of things to come this fall and winter.

Did you know: The Purple Finch is the state bird of New Hampshire.

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