PURPLE FINCH (Haemorhous purpureus)
DESCRIPTION: The adult male Purple Finch has a raspberry red head, and the upper body with part of the wings are washed out raspberry red. The rest of the wings and the tail are medium brown. The rump is white. The female is brownish with lighter streaks, with a white line behind the eye. The bill and legs are grey. Finches are seed eaters, as shown by their robust conical bills. The purple finch is approximately 15 cm (6 inches) long.
VOICE: https://www.xeno-canto.org/species/Haemorhous-purpureus – This finch has a melodious song, and can even sometimes imitate the song of other.
NAME: The English name ‘Finch’ has an ancient English origin which is likely as an onomatopoeia. The Latin genus name ‘Haemorhous’ comes from ancient Greek and refers to ‘bleeding’ (think of ‘haemorrhage’), and ‘purpureus’ refers to the purple color. This Latin name was given by British ornithologist William J. Swainson due to the species’ red color in the males.
HABITAT: Coniferous forests. The purple finch has well adapted to urban settings, where it can be seen at bird feeders.
DIET: In addition to seeds, the purple finch also eats berries and insects when available.
NESTING: Purple finches build their nests in conifers or deciduous trees on a branch, with another one above offering protection. The nest height can vary from near the ground to near the top of the tree. An average of four light green eggs are laid, which are incubated by the female. Both parents feed the chicks.
DISTRIBUTION: The overall breeding range of the purple finch includes the Boreal Canadian forests, and the populations that migrate for the winter are found mostly throughout the eastern half of the USA.
ON PEI: The purple finch is a year-round resident on Prince Edward Island. It is common on the island almost through the year, depending on food sources.
CONSERVATION: The population of this finch has declined due to out-competing by a similar but introduced species, the House Finch. Its population levels are also influenced by food sources such as cone crops and insect outbreaks in its habitat. However at the present time the species is not considered at risk.
NOTES: When a group of finches is jostling for position around a food source, females will usually prevail over males.
The purple finch is susceptible to a contagious disease, Trichomonosis, which is spread from bird to bird at improperly maintained bird feeders.
SIMILAR SPECIES: House Finch (here’s an article [and another one below] to help tell these two species apart)
REFERENCES: https://www.mba-aom.ca/jsp/toc.jsp (Maritimes Breeding Bird Atlas)
https://nature.mdc.mo.gov/discover-nature/field-guide/purple-finch (Missouri Department of Conservation)
The song of the purple finch can be heard just after the first half of the video.