Often mistaken for a house finch, the purple finch mostly winters in the Chesapeake Bay watershed and breeds up north.
Adult males have a raspberry red head, breast and back, while females are brown, tan and white. Both males and females have stocky bills and a deep notch at the tip of their tails.
Purple finches forage in trees and on the ground. They commonly visit bird feeders.
Adult finches are commonly preyed upon by barn owls, merlins, American kestrels, blue jays and house pets, such as cats and dogs. Their nests are also raided by squirrels, grackles and jays.
Purple finches fly in an undulating, up and down pattern.
Purple finches sing rich warbling songs.
Reproduction and Life Cycle
Purple finches raise one brood per year. Females typically lay four to five eggs, and incubate them in a nest for about 13 days. Both parents feed the nestlings. Young finches leave the nest about two weeks after hatching. Purple finches typically live three to five years.
Did You Know?
Purple finches are often outcompeted for food and habitat by house finches, which are native to Western North America and were brought to New York in the 1950s.
Purple finches sometimes add the sounds of other birds into their songs, including those from barn swallows, American goldfinches, eastern towhees and brown-headed cowbirds.
The oldest recorded purple finch was at least 12 years and 8 months old when it was recaptured and rereleased in North Carolina in 1972.