When I was kid, I tried to turn every House Finch we had in Indiana into a Purple Finch.

house finch

Trying to figure out if one is a little bit more raspberry red from another was the id of choice as the local bird ladies told me. I was also trying to see how far down the pink coloration went on the body. The above bird is clearly a male House Finch.

Purple finch
But now that I live some place where we get Purple Finches regularly, there is no question on how to tell them apart. The shape is different for one thing. But even if you are new to birding and have a tough time seeing that, the easiest way to tell them apart is to look at the flanks.  Adult male Purple Finches lack the streaking on the sides that House Finches have on their bodies. The can have some around the rump but not nearly as much as a house finch.  Immature males in traditional plumage will have the streaking (Like the bird in the featured image with this post. That is a young male growing in his adult plumage and still showing some of the streaking). But if you look at that robust head and how the eyebrow is lighter than the rest of his head, he’s a Purple Finch.

PURPLEHOUSE by Roy NeherPhotographer Roy Neher created this photo to illustrate the differences between the two birds. Guess which is which!

Keep an eye on those sunflower feeders and see what you can find pink finch wise.

Written by Birdchick
Sharon Stiteler was given a Peterson Field Guide to Birds when she was seven years old and snapped. She loves birds - it’s just the way she’s wired. Since 1997, she has made it her goal to get paid to go birding. She runs the popular birding blog, Birdchick.com, and has been in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and on NBC Nightly News as well as making regular appearances on Twin Cities’ TV and radio stations. She’s a professional speaker and story-teller and her writing can be found in several publications including WildBird Magazine, Outdoor News, and Birding Business. She wrote the books 1001 Secrets Every Birder Should Know, Disapproving Rabbits and City Birds/Country Birds. When she’s not digiscoping, tweeting or banding birds, she’s a part-time park ranger and award-winning beekeeper.