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Purple finch

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(Redirected from Carpodacus purpureus)

Purple finch
Temporal range: Late Pleistocene–present
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Fringillidae
Subfamily: Carduelinae
Genus: Haemorhous
H. purpureus
Binomial name
Haemorhous purpureus
(Gmelin, 1789)
Range of C. purpureus
  Breeding range
  Year-round range
  Wintering range

Burrica purpurea
Carpodacus purpureus

The purple finch (Haemorhous purpureus) is a bird in the finch family, Fringillidae. It breeds in the northern United States, southern Canada, and the west coast of North America.


The purple finch was formally described in 1789 by the German naturalist Johann Friedrich Gmelin in his revised and expanded edition of Carl Linnaeus's Systema Naturae. He placed it with the finches in the genus Fringilla and coined the binomial name Fringilla purpurea. Gmelin specified the locality as Carolina.[2][3] Gmelin based his account on the "purple finch" that had been described and illustrated by the English naturalist Mark Catesby in his book The Natural History of Carolina, Florida and the Bahama Islands.[4] The purple finch is now one of three finches placed in the genus Haemorhous that was introduced in 1837 by the English naturalist William Swainson.[5]

Two subspecies are recognised:[5]

  • H. p. purpureus (Gmelin, JF, 1789) – central south, southeast Canada and northeast USA
  • H. p. californicus (Baird, SF, 1858) – southwest Canada and west USA

This species and the other "American rosefinches" were formerly included with the rosefinches of Eurasia in the genus Carpodacus; however, the three North American species are not closely related to the rosefinches of the Old World, and have thus been moved to the genus Haemorhous.[5][6]


The purple finch is 12–16 cm (4.7–6.3 in) in overall length[7] and weighs a mean 23.3 g (0.82 oz), ranging from 19.8–28.4 g (0.7 - 1.0 oz).[8] It has a short forked brown tail and brown wings. Adult males are raspberry red on the head, breast, back and rump; their back is streaked. Adult females have light brown upperparts and white underparts with dark brown streaks throughout; they have a white line on the face above the eye.

The subspecies H. p. californicus differs from the nominate in having a longer tail and shorter wings. The plumage of both males and females is darker, and the coloration of the females is more greenish.[9] It also has a longer bill.[10]

Distribution and habitat[edit]

Their breeding habitat is coniferous and mixed forest in Canada and the northeastern United States, as well as various wooded areas along the U.S. Pacific coast.

Birds from northern Canada migrate to the southern United States; other birds are permanent residents.[citation needed]

The purple finch population has been displaced from some breeding season habitats in the Eastern United States following the introduction of the house finch, which is native to the western U.S. and Mexico. The two species share a similar niche, with the house finch often outcompeting the purple finch during the summer.[11]


Male purple finch

Food and feeding[edit]

These birds forage in trees and bushes, sometimes in ground vegetation. They mainly eat seeds, berries, and insects.[12] They are fond of sunflower seeds, millet, and thistle.


The purple finch prefers nesting in lowland coniferous and mixed forests, avoiding more heavily populated urban areas, but sometimes found in rural residential areas. The female Purple Finch usually builds her nest on horizontal branches of coniferous trees, away from the trunk, but occasionally in tree forks. The nest is shaped like an open cup, made up of rootlets, twigs, and weeds, and lined with grass, hair, and moss.

Cultural depictions[edit]

The purple finch was designated the state bird of New Hampshire in 1957.[13] The New Hampshire red hen (breed of domestic chicken) was also proposed, but was not chosen in favor of the purple finch.[14] In 1763, Richard Brookes made the description of the female purple finch in Mexico with the name of "chiantototl" (chia seed bird).[15]


  1. ^ BirdLife International (2016). "Haemorhous purpureus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2016: e.T22720553A94672558. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-3.RLTS.T22720553A94672558.en. Retrieved 11 November 2021.
  2. ^ Gmelin, Johann Friedrich (1789). Systema naturae per regna tria naturae : secundum classes, ordines, genera, species, cum characteribus, differentiis, synonymis, locis (in Latin). Vol. 1, Part 2 (13th ed.). Lipsiae [Leipzig]: Georg. Emanuel. Beer. p. 923.
  3. ^ Paynter, Raymond A. Jr, ed. (1968). Check-List of Birds of the World. Vol. 14. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Museum of Comparative Zoology. p. 270.
  4. ^ Catesby, Mark (1729–1732). The Natural History of Carolina, Florida and the Bahama Islands (in English and French). Vol. 1. London: W. Innys and R. Manby. p. 41, Plate 41.
  5. ^ a b c Gill, Frank; Donsker, David; Rasmussen, Pamela, eds. (July 2023). "Finches, euphonias". IOC World Bird List Version 13.2. International Ornithologists' Union. Retrieved 23 August 2023.
  6. ^ Zuccon, Dario; Prŷs-Jones, Robert; Rasmussen, Pamela C.; Ericson, Per G.P. (February 2012). "The phylogenetic relationships and generic limits of finches (Fringillidae)". Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 62 (2): 581–596. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2011.10.002.
  7. ^ "Purple Finch Identification, All About Birds, Cornell Lab of Ornithology". www.allaboutbirds.org. Retrieved 2024-04-02.
  8. ^ Dunning, Jr., John B. (2008). CRC Handbook of Avian Body Masses (2nd ed.). CRC Press. p. 516. ISBN 978-1-4200-6444-5.
  9. ^ Bailey, Florence Merriam; Fuertes, Louis Agassiz (1921). Handbook of Birds of the Western United States. Houghton Mifflin. pp. 310.
  10. ^ Kaufman, Kenneth (1999). A Field Guide to Advanced Birding. HMCo Field Guides. pp. 267–268. ISBN 0-395-97500-X.
  11. ^ Wootton, J. T. (1987). "Interspecific Competition between Introduced House Finch Populations and Two Associated Passerine Species". Oecologia. 71 (3): 325–331. doi:10.1007/BF00378703. PMID 28312977.
  12. ^ "Purple Finch". Audubon. Retrieved 2024-04-25.
  13. ^ "Stage Bird | New Hampshire Almanac | NH.gov". www.nh.gov. Retrieved 2024-04-02.
  14. ^ "New Hampshire's Avian Emblem: The Purple Finch". www.birdielearning.com. Retrieved 2024-04-15.
  15. ^ Brookes, Richard (1763). The Natural History of Birds. Vol 2, p 205.

External links[edit]