House Finch Vs. Purple Finch: What Are The Differences Between The Two | Kidadl


House Finch Vs. Purple Finch: What Are The Differences Between The Two

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When these birds are kept as pets, they are often not alone and enjoy the company of the other finches within the cage.

There are several species of finches, and each has unique identification marks. Finches make pleasant sounds and prefer to be with their own kind.

Even a male finch cannot screech as loud as a parrot. Both male and female finches continue to talk to each other throughout the day. Two species of finches are of particular interest to certain parts of the population - house finch and purple finch. There are subtle differences in the color and appearance of these birds' eyebrows, forehead, curved bills, and breast color, which helps with their identification. After reading about the comparison between males and females of this species, also check out more details about bird flying and bird talons.

How can you tell the difference between a purple finch and a house finch?

Both purple finch and house finch are of the same group of birds. Purple finches are found in North America, while purple finches can be seen in Canada and the Northeast. They have identical sizes and similar characteristics. This often confuses their identification. 

These two species of birds tend to look absolutely the same to untrained eyes. However, if you look closer, there are visible differences between these two species of birds.

House finches have streaks on their body while purple finches have stripes. The entire body of purple finches has a shade of purple. Although upon identification, the bird looks brown and white at first, a closer look revealed the purple touch, especially on the head and towards the chest and belly. On the other hand, the house finch has color around the eyes but not on the head. It is a minute difference, not easily visible to most people.  Purple finches mainly depend on sunflower seeds for sustenance, while house finches are omnivores.

The purple finches are bigger and rounder than the house finches. Not only is the house finch shorter, but it is also thinner than the purple finches. Purple finches have undulating flight whereas Housing finch Swift bounding flight. A flock of purple finches flies only in winters, whereas flocks of house finches tend to fly all year round. Purple finches tend to be very territorial, while house finch loves community group living.  A purple finch has an average lifespan of 3-4 years during an average lifespan of 4-5 years. The calling sound of a purple finch is softer than that of a house finch.

House Finch And Purple Finch Identification Characteristics

The difference in identification can be seen in the color of the male finch. Male house finch tends to be a shade or reddish-orange while male purple finch is mostly of reddish-purple. Male house finches have dark stripes under their wings which males do not have.

Male house finches have a clear identification of a  smooth crown on their head, whereas male purple finches have a larger head and peaked towering crown. The bill of house finches is small, bulbous, curved on top, while the bill of purple is larger, less curved.

Female purple finch has dark cheeks and white streaks below the cheeks as a mark of its identification. It is white and brown towards the chest and belly, but its back is dark brown. The female house finch is brown with white feathers towards the sides and back. It has a well-highlighted eyebrow. House finches, in general, have a smaller beak, their wingtips are smaller, and their tail is longer than that of purple finches. The beak of the purple finch is cone-shaped, straight rounded, and pointed. It is definitely smaller than the beak of a house finch.

Difference In Nesting Habits

Purple finches move around and form their nests in Evergreen forests, orchards, and parkland areas. On the other hand, house finches tend to form their community nests in Small conifers and the urban regions. The female purple finch chooses the nesting location and builds a cup-sized nest using materials they can find, such as twigs, leaves, moss, etc.

The female purple finch lays 5-6 eggs at a time and does not leave the nest for around 14-15 days. During this time, the male purple finch brings food for the female.

House finches also make cup-shaped nests with twigs, mosses, and leaves; however, their nests need not necessarily be on trees. House finches can build nests in hanging pots, some other birds holes in the trunk of a tree, or even above feeders.

Difference In Appearance

The features that help in the identification of houses and purple finches are a part of their appearance. Males are the ones with specific colors on them. Male house and purple finches have a reddish tone in their feathers, head, and crown. Purple finches have a reddish-purple tone, while the house finch has a more reddish-orange kind of look.

The house has a longer tail as compared to purple finches. Their longer tail seems to be even longer because of their short bill and small stature. Their longer tails hang from the tree branches and look wonderful. The smaller bill of the house finch looks cute and is a straightforward identification mark for watchers.

Male Purple Finch perched on a feeder

Difference In Diet And Feeding Behaviour

Purple finches live primarily in trees and fly above and below the tree cover in search of food. These species look for seeds, and they eat buds of trees and plants, small insects, weeds, and even wild berries. They absolutely adore sunflower black-oil seeds.

They are attracted to feeders in their areas of habitat due to the sunflower seeds. Their feeders usually consist of seeds and water. These birds love big feeders as they like to eat and bathe in solitary most of the time. A warm water container in the feeder is much appreciated during the winter months.

House finches eat the same foods irrespective of the season. Finches tend to eat vegetarian food. They love to eat sunflower, safflower, and nyjer seeds. Feeders that are installed should be such that only finches can access them. Open feeders are used popularly by squirrels. Unless the feeders are designed explicitly for finches, squirrels are the first to finish off seeds and other plant products like buds, vegetables, and fruits.

Difference In Wingspan

These two species of birds are relatively similar; the females of this group look very similar to sparrows. Sparrows, too, are brown and white. These birds of North America have streakings along with their wings and breasts. There is some difference in the wings of the two species that help tell them apart. House and purple finches have similar markings on their wings.

The male has red markings, while the females have similar brown streaks on their wings. The streaks present on the wings make it easier to identify and tell apart a sparrow, house finch, and purple finch.

The dark color streaks on the wings and slight facial white provide an excellent way to identify males and females. The wings of the purple finch bird have slight white color markings as lines along with the fading red color. Houses have shorter wings than purple finches. House finches have a short primary projection, while purple finches have a long primary projection. There is a particular range that these finches can cover. The purple finch bird moves over Canada in summers and the Pacific region in winters. Houses tend to be in the US all year round.

The slight pink, orange, and raspberry red color markings in these finches are the key to identifying these birds. Depending on whether the birds are from the East, West, or Central regions of Canada, US, and Pacific area, the shades of these birds may differ slightly.

Should you leave feeders out for them?

Yes. Finches repeatedly eat from feeders. Building attractive feeders for birds, especially for finches, requires the selection of a good location. These raspberry-colored birds love to eat sunflower seeds. The best way to attract finches to your feeders is to serve them sunflower seeds. This is an excellent place for birding and watching them.

Provide a bath on the feeder to help the birds cool themselves during summers and quench their thirst. In the winter season, it is better to serve some warm water in the feeders. This will enable the bird to stay warm and feel relaxed during the winter season. Remember to establish feeders that are accessible to birds only. There are times when open bird feeders turn into the feeding ground for squirrels.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for house finch vs. purple finch, then why not take a look at do birds eat bees or House finch Facts.

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