Purple Finch

Purple Finch.  Photo by Jeff Tibbits



This bird is the size of a sparrow and has a notched tail. Males have red and brown streaked backs, sides and wings. The breast, throat and head are a raspberry red. The checks are reddish-brown. Females have a distinct white eyebrow and white “mustache,” with a white breast and belly with short, dark, contrasting streaks. Purple finches may be confused with the house finch, which has a squared tail. The male house finch may appear to be a brighter red overall, but lacks red on the wings and sides. The breast and belly of the female house finch is a dingy gray-brown with many fine brown indistinct streaks. The house finch female also has a nearly plain brown face.


Approximately 4.7 to 6.3 inches in length. Wingspan of 8.7 to 10.2 inches.


These birds can be found in deciduous forests as well as shrubby open areas. In some years, this is a common winter visitor to urban and residential neighborhoods that have large, mature trees. Purple finches are an occasional visitor to the eastern two-thirds of Oklahoma.

Life History

At feeders, purple finches eat black-oil sunflower seeds. Away from feeders, they search vegetation and the ground for seeds, berries, buds and insects.

Wildlife Watching Tips

These birds will visit platform-style feeders just above the ground, as well as hopper and tube-shaped feeders that are near tree cover. They usually feed in flocks of 5 to 30 birds.

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Purple Finch.  Photo by Jeff Tibbits
ODWC Photo
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Photo by: Patty Browne/USFWS