How Do You Tell a House Finch From a Purple Finch?

How Do You Tell a House Finch From a Purple Finch? Featured Image

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.

  • Male House Finch
    Male House Finch
  • Male Purple Finch
    Male Purple Finch

  • Female House Finch
  • Female Purple Finch
    Female Purple Finch

 

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!

Comments

  • I believe the bird in the photo labeled “Female House Finch” is actually a female House Sparrow. The female House Finch has heavy streaking on the chest and belly and does not have a large, light colored eyebrow.

    • My goodness are we embarrassed! Thank you to everyone who commented to let us know that our image of a female House Finch is in fact, a female Field Sparrow. The image source was incorrectly labeled and we failed to catch it. Thankfully our site visitors are so vigilant. We will correct it as soon as we get an acceptable image to post. Keep up the good work and please never hesitate to let us know if we have egg on our face!

  • I don’t think your female House Finch is a female House Finch nor is your female Purple Finch a female Purple Finch. I think the female House Finch is a Field Sparrow and your female Purple Finch is a male Purple Finch.

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