Finch vs Finch

Purple vs House Finch

Purple vs House Finch

These two Finch species look a lot a like. Can you see the subtle differences?
 
House / Purple Finch, females

House / Purple Finch, females

The females make it even more difficult. Although the big difference here is the strong facial markings on the Purple Finch. House Finches are slightly smaller than a Purple, not as bulky, and they have a slightly longer tail.
 
House Finches have an interesting story. They originally only occurred on the west coast of the US and western Mexico and were for the most part non-migratory. But in the 1940’s a small population was imported into New York city as cage birds (which was illegal then as it is now) and were sold as “Hollywood Finches”. Even the scientific name is interesting and indicates where this bird originally came from, Carpodacus mexicanus. Compare that to the Purple Finches Latin name: Carpodacus purpureus.
 
Some House Finches subsequently escaped, some were released, and a east coast population was established. They have now been steadily expanding their range and are now showing up in southern and central Minnesota. House Finches may even have visited Crane Lake, although I personally have not seen one. We have lots of Purple Finches here in the summer and some even winter at our bird feeders.
 
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