About The Purple Finch

The purple finch in reality is not purple. Its color is actually rose. This bird is also called Roselin Pourpre’ in French and Gorrion Purpureo in Spanish.

The purple finch is similar in appearance to the house finch. Its only difference is the absence of brown streaks on the breast and stomach and has a brighter purple head, shorter tail and varying call sounds. It also has two subspecies – the Pacific Coast form and the more common form. The female purple finch has a distinctive face pattern compared to the house finch.

Purple finches are abundant and can be seen when they migrate during spring time. In summer, their range covers St. Louis, British Columbia and in the Fur countries. During winter, they are seen in Texas, North and South Carolina and Kentucky as well as in the U.S.-Mexico border. They usually breed in North America such as in British Columbia and Newfoundland in Canada, in California, Minnesota and West Virginia in the U.S. Other range breeds include Alberta, Manitoba and Quebec in Canada, northern New Jersey and Baja, California.

The purple finch is about 5 ½ to 6 ½ inches long, bigger than the house finch but smaller than Cassin’s finch. The male is more raspberry in color from the upper body to the breast and flanks with a brighter purple crown and rump. The edge of its feathers is red while its lower breast is lighter red. The male develops this distinct plumage when he is about two years old.

The female has a light stripe behind the eyes, dark stripe on its jaw and heavy streaks on the breast. Its upper body is light olive-brown with dark brown streaks while its underpants and stomach are white.

A songbird like the other finches, the purple finch sings a series of warbles and may sometimes imitate the songs of other birds. Its call sound is a short and low “tek.”

The purple finch was approved as the official bird of New Hampshire courtesy of the 1957 legislature. This small bird replaced the New Hampshire hen to become the new official state bird. It was Rep. Robert Monahan of Hanover who sponsored the bill proposing to make the purple finch as a state bird. Thanks to the strong support of sponsoring organizations, the proposal earned a speedy approval. The House of Representatives and the Senate passed it without a hitch and the bill was signed into law on April 25, 1957.


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