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Merlin Bird ID

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    Purple Finch

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    Purple Finch

    Haemorhous purpureus
    • ORDER: Passeriformes
    • FAMILY: Fringillidae
    Basic Description

    The Purple Finch is the bird that Roger Tory Peterson famously described as a “sparrow dipped in raspberry juice.” For many of us, they’re irregular winter visitors to our feeders, although these chunky, big-beaked finches do breed in northern North America and the West Coast. Separating them from House Finches requires a careful look, but the reward is a delicately colored, cleaner version of that red finch. Look for them in forests, too, where you’re likely to hear their warbling song from the highest parts of the trees.

    More ID Info
    image of range map for Purple FinchRange map provided by Birds of North AmericaExplore Maps

    Find This Bird

    Your backyard sunflower seed feeder is probably a great place to look for Purple Finches if you live within their winter range. This species moves very erratically from year to year, so if you don’t have them this year, there’s always a chance they’ll arrive next year.

    Other Names
    • Pinzón Colorado (Spanish)
    • Roselin pourpré (French)

    Backyard Tips

    Purple Finches have large, seed-cracking beaks, and they seem to like black oil sunflower seeds best. A seed preference study determined that they choose thinner sunflower seeds over wider ones. Coniferous trees in your backyard may encourage Purple Finches to visit. Find out more about what this bird likes to eat and what feeder is best by using the Project FeederWatch Common Feeder Birds bird list.

    • Cool Facts