Many people mistake a House Finch for a Purple Finch. It can be tough to tell them apart. They are about the same size and shape, but the difference is in the coloring. The males can be distinguished by the shades of color. The male House Finch is an reddish-orange, while the male Purple Finch is a reddish-purple.
The House Finch has what looks like streaking on the breast and the sides. The Purple Finch has stripes but not streaking. The Purple Finch looks as if it someone poured purple dye on its head and the color moved over the original brown and cream and flowed down the back and down the chest. The House Finch has color along its eyebrow, but the entire head does not have color. The House Finch also has color on its chest.
You’ll have a tougher time trying to tell the female House Finch and Purple Finch apart. Both are various shades of brown and white with no distinguishing colors. The female Purple Finch has bold facial patterns. She has a distinctive white streak over her eye, a dark cheek patch, and a white stripe at the bottom of the cheek. The female House Finch looks mostly brown but has some white feathers showing through on her sides and back. The female Purple Finch has what looks like white and brown streaks down the breast and dark brown coloring on her back.
Both the House Finch and the Purple Finch love to eat sunflower seeds and sunflower meats and will often visit feeders to get them. You’ll see House Finches all over the eastern part of the United States. Purple Finches live in the north and breed in southeast Canada.
Now, that you can spot the differences, you’ll enjoy watching for House Finches and Purple Finches at the feeder!