|Species: Purple Finch
Described as a ‘heavy-billed’ sparrow that has been dipped in
‘raspberry juice’ the Purple Finch is a ravenous guest at bird
feeders when seed crops fail in northern coniferous forests.
The Purple Finch is moderately common across the northern U.S. and
southern and central Canada and the west coast of North America.
During winter, it ranges throughout much of the eastern U.S. and
southern Canada and migrates into lower-elevation areas in the west.
relatively large finch with a notched tail which is much shorter
than the wing. The beak is short and conical with the culmen (upper
bill) in silhouette shallowly curved. 12.4-15.4 cm long and 22g
Raspberry red colouration spreads relatively uniformly across
upperparts, head, neck and sides; lower belly and undertail-coverts
usually unmarked, white.
Adult female and
Juveniles: Virtually indistinguishable, generally have little or
no red, are strongly streaked across back and sides of belly with
dark brown over gray, and have a conspicuous light eyebrow stripe
contrasting with a solid ear patch; background belly colouration of
females and juveniles bright white.
Red of male House Finch usually brighter, more orange-tinted;
the upper bill (culmen) of House Finch much larger and less curved.
The Purple Finch feeds mainly on seeds, buds, blossoms, nectar,
fruit of trees and occasionally insects.
Sallies from perch to catch insects. During sustained flight has an
Breeds primarily in moist or cool coniferous forests and winters in
a range of habitats including coniferous, deciduous and mixed
coniferous-deciduous forest, urban and suburban areas, mixed shrub,
weedy fields and hedgerows. Habitat choice may be dictated by
availability of food resources rather than habitat structure.
and regularly seen, this bird is one of the least-studied finches in
North America because it is neither common enough to be easily
studied nor rare enough to be threatened with extinction.
In winter, Purple Finches travel in undulating flocks, filling the
brisk air with their metallic”tick” notes. The Finch is noted for
quasicyclical irruptions across portions of its winter range,
thought to be associated with year to year variation in the
production of northern coniferous cones.
Purple Finches produce 4-6 pale greenish-blue marked with brown or
black flecks, eggs. The cup nest is in a horizontal coniferous
branch between 6 and 40 ft high.
There is no evidence of immediate danger of declines or northern and
eastern populations but more monitoring is required.
The Purple Finch is a resident of Colony Farm. Its capture
rates (2010-2012; standardized as birds captured per 100 net
hours) fluctuate throughout the year, peaking during
different months. The peak from July through October
corresponds with juvenile dispersal and increased movement
after the breeding season. The peak in December is probably
due to the attraction of the feeder as a consistent food
source during a cold winter month.