Finch ID – Take a Closer Look

Take a closer look at that finch on your feeder. Are you sure it’s what you thought?

Distinguishing between House, Purple and Cassin’s Finches can be a bit tricky. But, there are clues to help make positive identifications much simpler.

First of all, determine which finches are in your area. Click the bird names below to see range maps.

Second, check out the coloration and/or face patterns.

You can tell the male finches apart mostly by body coloration.

house finch male, Wild Birds Unlimited, WBU

Male House Finch
Red to orange (and sometimes yellow) coloration
Coloration most brilliant on the forehead
Brown cheek patch, back and wings (no red)

purple finch male, Wild Birds Unlimited, WBU

Male Purple Finch
Coloration looking like the bird was dipped head first into raspberry jam or red wine
Reddish on cheek, back and wings

Cassin's finch male, Wild Birds Unlimited, WBU

Male Cassin’s Finch
Bright red crown – contrasts with lighter red face and chin
Whitish eye ring

You can tell the female finches apart mostly by face coloration.

house finch female, Wild Birds Unlimited, WBU

Female House Finch
Basic brown and white streaked bird

purple finch female, Wild Birds Unlimited, WBU

Female Purple Finch
Bright white eyebrow and mustache stripe bordering a brown cheek patch

Cassin's finch female, Wild Birds Unlimited, WBU

Female Cassin’s Finch
Faint white eyebrow and mustache stripe bordering a brown cheek patch

Check out the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s helpful web page on Tricky Bird IDs for more tips on the difference between House, Purple and Cassin’s Finches.

Take a closer look. Which finches are at your feeders?

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