What’s the difference in a House Finch and a Purple Finch?

Answered by Edward Huber

The House Finch and the Purple Finch are two species of finches that can be found in North America. While they may appear similar at first glance, there are several key differences between the two.

One of the most noticeable differences is their coloration. House finches are typically a vibrant red or red-orange color, reminiscent of a ripe strawberry. On the other hand, purple finches have a darker pink or rosy hue, similar to a raspberry or a glass of red wine. The purple finch’s coloration is often described as more intense and richer than that of the house finch.

Another distinguishing feature is the extent of red on their bodies. Purple finches have a much more extensive distribution of red feathers compared to house finches. This red coloration can be seen on their crown, nape, back, chest, cheeks, and flanks. In contrast, house finches tend to have red plumage primarily on their face and upper breast, with the rest of their body being a mix of brown and gray.

When observing these two species side by side, the differences become even more apparent. The purple finch’s overall coloration is more uniform, with a consistent pinkish-red tone throughout its body. In contrast, the house finch’s red coloration is often more patchy and less uniform, with variations in intensity and distribution.

In terms of behavior and habitat, both finches are similar. They are both seed-eating birds and can be found in a variety of habitats, including gardens, parks, and forests. They are known for their melodious songs and lively chirping, which is a delight to birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts.

Personally, I have had the pleasure of observing both house finches and purple finches in my backyard. I often put out bird feeders filled with seeds, which attract a variety of bird species. I have noticed that while house finches are more common and frequent visitors, purple finches have a distinct beauty and elegance to them. Their deep pink coloration stands out among the other birds, and their melodious songs add a lovely ambiance to my garden.

The key differences between house finches and purple finches lie in their coloration and the extent of red on their bodies. House finches are a classic red or red-orange, while purple finches have a darker pink or rosy hue. Purple finches also display a more extensive red coloration on various parts of their body. These differences make them easily distinguishable when observed closely and side by side.