Description of the Purple Finch


The Purple Finch is a stocky finch with a thick bill and a proportionately large head.

Males are washed in raspberry-red on the head, back, rump, and breast.


Females are brownish and heavily streaked on the breast, with a fairly bold white eyeline.

Seasonal change in appearance



Similar to adult females.


Purple Finches are found in coniferous and mixed woodlands.


Purple Finches primarily eat seeds and buds, but also berries and insects.


Purple Finches forage primarily in trees and shrubs, sometimes in small flocks.


Purple Finches occur in the eastern U.S. as well parts of Canada and the western U.S. The population has declined in recent years.

More information:

Bent Life History

Visit the Bent Life History for extensive additional information on the Purple Finch.

Wing Shape

The shape of a bird's wing is often an indication of its habits and behavior. Fast flying birds have long, pointed wings. Soaring birds have long, broad wings. Different songbirds will have a slightly different wing shape. Some species look so much alike (Empidonax flycatchers) that scientists sometimes use the length of specific feathers to confirm a species' identification.

Male, May; Female, July; Washington

Wing images from the University of Puget Sound, Slater Museum of Natural History

Fun Facts

Competition with House Sparrows and House Finches may have reduced Purple Finch populations in the northeastern U.S.

Purple Finches frequently visit bird feeders for seeds.


The song is a lengthy warble, and the flight call is a "bik".


Will visit feeders for sunflower and suet.


The nest is a cup of twigs, bark, and weeds and is lined with softer materials. It is usually placed on an outer branch of a tree.

Usually lay 3-5 eggs.

Greenish-blue with darker markings.

Incubation and fledging:
The young hatch at about 13 days, and leave the nest in another 14 days, though continuing to associate with the adults for some time.