Purple Finches

Purple Finches

April 09, 2024 | Myrna Pearman, Chin Ridge Seeds (en-CA)

Myrna Pearman, Resident Naturalist & Backyard Bird Feeding Expert
This article is part of our "Ask Myrna" Backyard Bird Feeding Series.

What a delight it is to see the first Purple Finches arriving back in April, with the males’ beautiful raspberry-red providing a welcome contrast to the dull grays and browns of the surrounding landscape. Both the males and females sing a bubbly continuous warble, also a welcome addition to an early spring day.

Purple Finches are sometimes confused with the now-abundant House Finches. Although they are similar in size, they can be quite easily distinguished from each other. Male Purple Finches are a raspberry red while House Finches tend to be orangish-red. Female Purple Finches have a well-defined white eyeline and are crisply patterned while female House Finches are quite dull with blurrier streaking.

Purple Finches are mainly seed eaters, but will also eat insects, soft buds, nectar (extracted by biting the bases off flowers) as well as berries and fruit. When they first arrive in the spring, the birds will frequent bird feeders that offer sunflower chips, canola and nyjer seed. An excellent blend to offer them is Mother Nature’s Wild Finch Mix.

While Purple Finches tend to patronize feeders less during the summer, both adults and newly fledged juveniles will occasionally make an appearance at a feeding station to supplement their summer menu. In the fall, feeders regain their popularity during the birds’ late September/early October migration south.