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Identification of Cassin’s, House and Purple Finches


The three ‘red’ finches (Cassin’s Finch, House Finch and Purple Finch) are similar in appearance and can be an identification challenge.

In this writing, you’ll find the key identification keys to identify each of them. Male and female.


Red Finches

House Finch, Purple Finch and Cassin’s Finch are three similar species sometimes referred to as the red finches, in deference the color on the males.

House Finch is common across most of the United States.

Purple Finch breeds across most of Canada but is common in the winter in the eastern half of the U.S., as well as along the west coast.

Cassin’s Finch is a western species. The range of Cassin’s and Purple Finches seldom overlap, but common occurences do occur.

The females of the three species are easier to identify than the males.

Related: 17 finch species you can see in the U.S.


The female Purple Finch as a strong face pattern and strong streaks on the chest and sides.

The female House Finch has a very plain face, diffuse markings on the undersides and a somewhat conical bill.

The female Cassin’s Finch has a pointed bill and strong streaking on the underparts. Face pattern less distinctive than on Purple Finch.



The male Purple Finch has rose-red over much of the body, with diffused markings on the underparts.

The male House Finch has a noticeable gray/brown cheek patch. Steaks on the underside are strong.

The male Cassin’s Finch is much like the male Purple Finch. Generally less red on the Cassin’s with a red cap giving way to a brown nape.


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About the Author

Sam Crowe

Sam is the founder of He has been birding for over 30 years and has a world list of over 2000 species. He has served as treasurer of the Texas Ornithological Society, Sanctuary Chair of Dallas Audubon, Editor of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's "All About Birds" web site and as a contributing editor for Birding Business magazine. Many of his photographs and videos can be found on the site.

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