Purple Finch

Purple Finch Picture

Purple Finch

A Purple Finch is a fun bird to see while bird watching. Below are some tips to help you identify Purple Finchs. We have also put together a list of fun Purple Finch t-shirts, Purple Finch bird patches, bird houses, bird feeders, binoculars, stickers and other fun bird watching items.

About the Purple Finch

Their name is derived from their old-rose color that looks more like purple. Popularly referred to as sparrow dipped in raspberry juice, they are frequent visitors to your feeders, particularly in the winter. These big-beaked finches breed in the northern West Coast and North America. Although common in North and East America, they are rare in rocky mountain regions. Some of their distinctive features include:

Description and Identification

The adult male Purple Finches can be easily distinguished with the presence of streaks on their bodies and reddish plumage that fades into light brown towards the end. They generally have a red colour throughout their body except for the brownish-shade on their wings and upper parts. The females can be recognized by the small white line that runs above their eyes and the dark lines that are seen at the side of their throat. Female Purple Finches have brown backs and white lower parts. Their tails are short and have pointed, small bills.  The juvenile males and females cannot be distinguished as the presence of red plumage develop only after certain years of maturing.

Purple Finch Color Pattern

Purple finches are primarily red, purple or brown with white underparts and a red-brown breast. They have red-brown upperparts with brown stripes. Their tails are brown and have a notched tail. Although called purple finch, the females are brown streaked all over.

Purple Finch Size

They are sparrow-sized or smaller. The small forest birds are large and chunky than sparrows. Their bill is short but large and stronger than that of a sparrow. Their tail tends to be small and appears notched at the tip.

The relative size of both sexes

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

Purple Finch Behavior

They frequent feeders to pick sunflower seeds and black oil. They can also be found in forests where they forage on high branches and treetops. In winter, they descend to feed on seeds and insects. Their flight is coupled with rapid wing beats.

What Purple Finch Eat and Their Food

Purple Finches feed mainly on four types of food, including seeds, insects, small fruits and buds of trees. During summers, they consume insects as they are easily available. But in winters, their options are limited and are forced to limit to seeds, grass and fruits. Their insect diet involves caterpillars, ants, bugs, beetles and such. The younger birds are mostly given seeds till they reach a certain age. They are allowed to change to insects only after being capable of catching insects themselves. Purple Finches consume seeds with the help of their small yet strong beaks after cracking open the seed with a powerful knock.

They mainly feed on insects, seeds, berries, and buds. In winter, they feed mostly on seeds of ash tree and elm. These small finches also feed on buds of numerous trees and berries and small fruits. In the summer they enjoy eating insects such as caterpillars and beetles.

Where Purple Finches Live and Their Habitat

You can easily find Purple Finches near your garden especially with sunflowers if you live within their winter migration range. Purple Finches mainly prefer damp and moist atmosphere. Areas like coniferous lowlands and other forests are favoured by these species. They look for abundant opening spaces and can be spotted on open grounds and near human settlements, especially rural areas. While migrating, they usually keep to forests, shrublands, forest edges and lowlands. The populations in the Pacific states can be seen on trees near lakes. The Purple Finches in eastern parts of Washington prefer the wetlands and fields whereas the ones in the western parts of Washington enjoys all types of forests. 

They breed mostly in coniferous and deciduous forests. In winter, they can thrive in a variety of habitats such as forest edges, old fields, and shrublands.

Range and Migration

A member of the finch family, the Purple Finch is a species that is found mainly in the western parts of Washington and several parts of Canada. Purple finches that emerge from Canada spend their winters in the southern states of the United States. They migrate during winters to places where there is an abundance of cones. Most of the purple finches that are seen in the eastern part of the U.S tend to move to the southern parts of their breeding locations during harsh winters. The populations that choose north eastern America and parts of the Pacific Coast usually do not migrate during winters. 


The female Purple Finches are equipped with the task of building the nests during the breeding season. The nests are usually built on horizontal branches of trees in the shape of a cup using materials like twigs, grass, hair and sticks. The males win the attention of females by hopping near them and puffing out their chests. They shake their wings and move up a decent distance while carrying small materials for building the nest. During incubation, the males bring food for females and stay with them. Once the younger ones are born, the parents take up the task of providing the food together. 

Purple Finch Lifecycle

The females lay 4-5 eggs and incubate them for about 13 days. The nestlings are fed by both parents and leave the nest after 2 weeks. Their maximum lifespan is 14 years.


Bird Watching Academy & Camp Subscription Boxes

At Bird Watching Academy & Camp we help kids, youth, and adults get excited and involved in bird watching. We have several monthly subscription boxes that you can subscribe to. Our monthly subscription boxes help kids, youth, and adults learn about birds, bird watching, and bird conservation.

  • Kids Bird Watching Monthly Subscription

    $10.00 / month
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  • Kid & Adult Bird Watching Starter Pack Subscription

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  • Kids Bird Watching Starter Pack Subscription

    $10.00 / month and a $19.00 sign-up fee
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Bird Watching Binoculars for Identifying Purple Finches

The most common types of bird watching binoculars for viewing Purple Finchs are 8×21 binoculars and 10×42 binoculars. Bird Watching Academy & Camp sells really nice 8×21 binoculars and 10×42 binoculars. You can view and purchase them here.

  • Birding Binoculars

    Birding Binoculars

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  • Kids Binocular 8x21

    Kids Binoculars

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Purple Finch T-shirts

If you love the Purple Finch you should purchase a Bird Watching Academy & Camp T-shirt. To help support bird conservation we donate 10 percent to bird conservation activities.

Purple Finch Iron On Patches

Kids, Youth, and Adults love to collect our Bird Watching Academy & Camp iron on patches. Our bird watching patches help you keep track of the birds you have seen an identified. You can also display the patches on our Bird Watching Academy & Camp banners.

The Purple Finch is a great iron on patch to start your collection with. The patches are durable and can be sewn on or ironed on to just about anything.

  • Bird Banner with iron on patches

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Purple Finch Stickers

Stickers are a great way for you to display your love for bird watching and the Purple Finch. We sell a monthly subscription sticker pack. The sticker packs have 12 bird stickers. These sticker packs will help your kids learn new birds every month.

Bird Feeders For Purple Finch

There are many types of bird feeders. Here are our favorite bird feeders for your backyard. We use all of these bird feeders currently. Kids will have a great time watching birds eat at these bird feeders. Using this collection of bird feeders will provide a wide variety and many types of birds.

Best Bird Houses for Purple Finch

There are many types of bird houses. Building a bird house is always fun but can be frustrating. These 4 bird houses have become our favorites. Getting a bird house for kids to watch birds grow is always fun. We spent a little extra money on these bird houses but they have been worth the higher price and look great.

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