Purple finch

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Purple finch
Temporal range: Late Pleistocene–present
Carpodacus purpureus CT3.jpg
Carpodacus purpureus CT4.jpg
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Fringillidae
Subfamily: Carduelinae
Genus: Haemorhous
H. purpureus
Binomial name
Haemorhous purpureus
(Gmelin, 1789)
Carpodacus purpureus map.svg
Range of C. purpureus
  Breeding range
  Year-round range
  Wintering range

Burrica purpurea
Carpodacus purpureus

The purple finch (Haemorhous purpureus) is a bird in the finch family, Fringillidae.


This species and the other "American rosefinches" were formerly included with the rosefinches of Eurasia in the genus Carpodacus; however, the three North American species are not closely related to the rosefinches of the Old World, and have thus been moved to the genus Haemorhous by most taxonomic authorities.

It is included in the finch family, Fringillidae, which is made up of passerine birds found in the northern hemisphere, Africa, and South America. The purple finch was originally described by Johann Friedrich Gmelin in 1789.[2]

There are two subspecies of the purple finch, H. p. purpureus and H. p. californicus. H. p. californicus was identified by Spencer F. Baird in 1858.[2] It differs from the nominate subspecies in that it has a longer tail and shorter wings. The plumage of both males and females is darker, and the coloration of the females is more greenish.[3] The bill of H. p. californicus is also longer than that of the nominate subspecies.[4]


Adults have a short forked brown tail and brown wings. Adult males are raspberry red on the head, breast, back and rump; their back is streaked. Adult females have light brown upperparts and white underparts with dark brown streaks throughout; they have a white line on the face above the eye.


  • Length: 4.7-6.3 in (12-16 cm)
  • Weight: 0.6-1.1 oz (18-32 g)
  • Wingspan: 8.7-10.2 in (22-26 cm)

Habitat and distribution[edit]

Their breeding habitat is coniferous and mixed forest in Canada and the northeastern United States, as well as various wooded areas along the U.S. Pacific coast. They nest on a horizontal branch or in a fork of a tree.[citation needed]

Birds from northern Canada migrate to the southern United States; other birds are permanent residents.[citation needed]

The purple finch population has declined sharply in the East due to the house finch. Most of the time, when these two species collide, the house finch outcompetes the purple finch. This bird has also been displaced from some habitat by the introduced house sparrow.[6]


Male purple finch


These birds forage in trees and bushes, sometimes in ground vegetation. They mainly eat seeds, berries, and insects. They are fond of sunflower seeds, millet, and thistle.


The Purple Finch prefers nesting in lowland coniferous and mixed forests, avoiding more heavily populated urban areas, but sometimes found in rural residential areas. The female Purple Finch usually builds her nest on horizontal branches of coniferous trees, away from the trunk, but occasionally in tree forks. The nest is shaped like an open cup, made up of rootlets, twigs, and weeds, and lined with grass, hair, and moss.

Cultural depictions[edit]

This is the state bird of New Hampshire. In 1763, Richard Brookes made the description of the female purple finch in Mexico with the name of "chiantototl" (chia seed bird).[7]


  1. ^ BirdLife International (2016). "Haemorhous purpureus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2016: e.T22720553A94672558. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-3.RLTS.T22720553A94672558.en. Retrieved 11 November 2021.
  2. ^ a b "Carpodacus purpureus". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved 2008-07-18.
  3. ^ Bailey, Florence Merriam; Fuertes, Louis Agassiz (1921). Handbook of Birds of the Western United States. Houghton Mifflin. pp. 310. Carpodacus purpureus.
  4. ^ Kaufman, Kenneth (1999). A Field Guide to Advanced Birding. HMCo Field Guides. pp. 267–268. ISBN 0-395-97500-X.
  5. ^ "Purple Finch Identification, All About Birds, Cornell Lab of Ornithology". www.allaboutbirds.org. Retrieved 2020-09-29.
  6. ^ Wootton, J. T. (1987). "Interspecific Competition between Introduced House Finch Populations and Two Associated Passerine Species". Oecologia. 71 (3): 325–331. doi:10.1007/BF00378703. PMID 28312977.
  7. ^ Brookes, Richard (1763). The Natural History of Birds. Vol 2, p 205.

External links[edit]