The little birds known as house finches and purple finches are both indigenous to North America. Both species have gorgeous red and brown plumage, making them readily mistaken for one another.
Although it may seem that their names set them apart, they actually don’t. House finches are always found close to houses, yet purple finches aren’t purple. But don’t worry; if you know what you’re looking for, there are a few important distinctions that make them simple to tell apart.
First of all, they behave quite differently from one another; the other does not spend its entire time in a flock. Their color patterns and beak and tail patterns are also noticeably different from one another. However, there is still much to discover about these stunning birds.
So come along as we learn everything there is to know about the distinctions between purple and house finches.
Comparing Purple Finch vs House Finch
In North America, both purple and house finches may be found, and they both like coniferous areas. Although there are many different varieties of finch, these two are among the most prevalent in the US and Canada.
Additionally, as the house finch steadily outcompetes it, the purple finch has declined in frequency in the Eastern regions of the continent. The purple finch population decreases considerably more when the house sparrow is included in the equation.
The primary distinction between a purple finch and a house finch is color. The male house finch has a red to orange tinge on its head, whilst the male purple finch has a reddish-purple hue on much of its body, despite the fact that they are comparable in size and weight.
Even though they might appear to be extremely similar to an inexperienced eye, females differ as well. In contrast to female house finches, female purple finches have black cheek patches and a white stripe above their eyes.
How old are finches on average? Both species may live up to 14 years, although the average lifespan is 11 years for both.
When compared to their purple counterparts, what do house finches eat? Since both species prefer sunflower seeds and sunflower meats and both have no issues visiting finch feeders to obtain the necessary energy, there aren’t many distinctions in this regard.
Which is bigger: a House finch or Purple finch?
Purple and House finches are almost the same size and weight. The Purple finch has a little heavier physique and is slightly bigger and heavier.
Purple finch length is around 12 to 16 cm (4.7 to 6.3 in), and its wingspan is approximately 22 to 26 cm (8.7 to 10.2in). They weigh between 18 and 32g (0.6 to 1.1oz).
House finch length is around 12.5 to 15 cm (5 to 6 in), and its wingspan is approximately 20 to 25 cm (8 to 10in). They are 16 to 27g in weight (0.56 to 1oz).
House Finch vs Purple Finch: Habitat
Depending on where you reside, how can you know what kind of finch you have in your backyard? These two species’ habitats have seen significant alteration throughout time. The purple finch doesn’t truly prosper in locations where they both live since it effectively competes with the house finch.
Due of the abundance of house finches, purple finches have lost almost 90% of their territorial interactions. As a result, they are no longer present in areas where they were formerly common.
Purple finch nests are less likely to be discovered near towns or the areas around them since, in general, they may be found in less disturbed environments. Along the Pacific coast, in the Great Lakes area, and in the northern regions of Canada’s woods, purple finches can be seen year-round. They favor parks, evergreen woods, and orchards.
House finches spend the entire year living in the continental United States and close to the Canadian border. The majority stay put here until the weather is particularly awful. In addition to many metropolitan areas, tiny conifers are home to red-headed finches. They inhabit arid deserts and oak savannas in the West.
Therefore, if you live close to a city, it’s quite possible that you’ll only ever encounter house finches.
Both House Finches and Purple Finches enjoy eating wild finch mixtures that include chopped sunflower hearts, Nyjer seed, golden German millet, and canary seed. Having said that, they’ll be content if you offer them nearly any kind of wild bird food.
Just be careful to use feeders designed for finches. Beetles, aphids, and caterpillars are among the insects and worms that both varieties of finches like to eat. Young finches should take particular heed of this because they have a difficult difficulty digesting seeds.
Although you won’t be able to distinguish between House Finches and Purple Finches solely on what they eat, you might be able to tell by the manner they eat. Pay attention to their beaks in particular.
The Purple Finch’s beak is broader and more conventionally triangular, whereas the House Finch’s beak is smaller, bulbous, and has a curved tip.
House Finch vs Purple Finch: Bill
Both house finches and purple finches are mostly seed-eating herbivores, yet their bills are very unlike.
Purple finches have a considerably longer and straighter bill than house finches, which have a smaller bill with an unique curvature on the top mandible that gives it a bulbous look. It looks to be more triangular in form since the upper half isn’t curved.
Which is more Common, House finches or Purple finches?
Compared to Purple finches, House finches have a significantly wider resident range and a greater population.
There are between 267 million and 1.7 billion House finches, according to current estimations. A more reasonable estimate from Partners in Flight is 40 million birds.
Even though House finches are more prevalent, purple finches are still widespread. According to Partners in Flight, there are around 6.4 million people.
Particularly if you reside in towns or cities, the House finch is unquestionably more common than the Purple finch.
House Finch vs Purple Finch: Color
What bird has a red head and the appearance of a sparrow? If you’ve ever pondered this, it’s likely that you’ve encountered a mature male house finch. However, there are a number of noticeable color changes between the two kinds of finches.
House finches are often just crimson or reddish-orange on their heads and upper chests. The remainder of the body can range in color from light brown to orange and yellow. It’s likely to have been a house finch if you saw a red-breasted bird in your backyard.
What hue does a purple finch have? These little birds have a body that is almost entirely rose or pink. It mimics rose wine in certain ways. Additionally, they have striking red coloring on their chest, back, head, neck, as well as their flanks and cheeks.
When a finch is young, what does it resemble? Baby male purple and house finch species resemble adult females in that their red or pink coloration has not yet fully matured. Most start around one year of age.
It might be challenging to tell a female purple finch from a female house finch. The female house finch is primarily brown with some white feathers on her back and flanks, while having the same colors on the rest of her body. A purple finch of the same gender, however, has white streaks over her eyes and the bottom of her cheekbones.
A house finch, for example, has a red head, but a purple finch has red or pink coloring across much of its body (for males).
Songs and sounds
How can you tell a purple finch song apart from a regular house finch song? Unfortunately, both of these species’ noises are very similar. They do, however, have distinct call notes that can be utilized to tell a house finch from a purple finch.
The call note of the purple finch is quieter and sounds like a “pik” or “tek.” On the other hand, the house finch’s call sounds more like a ‘chirp’ and is louder and longer.
Male purple finches have three different sorts of songs: a warbling song, which is fast and rising and contains up to 23 notes, an up-and-down cadence, and a territorial song, which they often sing alone. The typical song that females sing might last up to two minutes.
The only type of song that house finches can sing is a warbling song that lasts up to three seconds and is made up of brief notes. Songs for women are significantly shorter. House finches have a harsher, less melodious voice compared to purple finches.
The call note can occasionally sound like a “cheep” and be jarringly abrupt and harsh. House finches frequently make this noise when flying.
House Finch vs Purple Finch: Behavior
House finches and purple finches behave quite differently from one another. Social and non-territorial birds include house finches. They can be seen in flocks of a few birds to several hundred virtually usually.
Because the flock likes to mate closely together, house finches even keep together when building their nests. House finches, however, behave hierarchically within these flocks, with the females predominating over the males.
Purple finches are entirely different from house finches in that they only form flocks in the winter and remain solitary and territorial the rest of the year.
They can be seen in flocks of up to 200 birds throughout the winter, including not just purple finches but a variety of other finch species as well. But as mating season arrives, they become fiercely possessive. Because of this, purple finches spend the remainder of the year either alone or in pairs.
Female House Finch and Purple Finch
While a female purple finch has a striking white eyebrow and whisker mark, a female house finch has a pretty basic brown face.
Is this a purple or house finch? From St. Cloud, Minnesota, Lynette Lozinski asks.
Small red finches may be challenging. The males of purple finches and house finches seem similar because they both have a lot of red on their heads. An example of a house finch It’s difficult to distinguish the house finch’s sleeker body, longer tail, and somewhat smaller beak in your shot (above) since the bird is sitting at an angle.
Find out the seven varieties of finch birds to watch for throughout the winter.
However, a purple finch would have very little to no brown streaking down the sides and beneath the wings, which makes this bird a good field mark.
What distinguishes a house finch from a purple finch? Find out how to distinguish between hairy and downy woodpeckers.
The populations of purple finches in the northeastern United States and Canada will migrate south during the winter, generally settling in the eastern United States and along the northern Pacific coast.
Although some northern colonies may move south in the winter, house finches seldom migrate. Purple finches typically migrate every year, whereas House finches depend on the weather to decide when to move.
Purple finches have a few year-round resident populations along the Pacific coast, in the Great Lakes region, and in southeast Canada.
What is the range of House and Purple finches?
House finches are found across much of the United States, portions of Mexico, and a few isolated pockets in southern Canada. Before the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, when they started to rapidly expand in the eastern US as well, they were considerably more prevalent in the western US.
Both the east and west of the US are now home to them, however they are slightly less prevalent in eastern Texas, Oklakaha, Nebraska, Kansas, South Dakota, and North Dakota. House finches may be found in a wide variety of environments, including urban areas, deserts, and low-lying wooded areas.
Purple finch – The Purple finch ranges further north, reaching the Northwest Territories and Yukon in western Canada. But they also go through Saskatchewan, Ontario, Quebec, and Alberta.
They move through a large portion of the eastern US in the winter and are widespread in the Great Lakes region and the northeastern US, where they interact with House finches.
They move down the Pacific Northwest from the west coast, where they are also most likely to be spotted accompanying House finches. Purple finches are uncommon in most of the interior western US states.
In conclusion, how does the purple finch differ from the house finch in appearance? In contrast to the male house finch, which has orange-red feathers only on its head, breast, and shoulders, the male bird has a pink or rosy red tinge on the surface of its entire body.
Female house finches have a subdued gray-brown colouring without any streaks or markings, whereas female purple finches have white patterns on an usually gray to brown body.