The Purple Finch of the Pacific Northwest
The Purple Finch is a common visitor on BC coast. A member of the finch family, the purple finch is closely related to the house finch. The purple finch is a medium sized finch, measuring in at up to 15 cm tall, with a wingspan of up to 26 cm. The male purple finch is basically raspberry colored on the head and chest while the female has the duller color of brown.
The male’s lower belly is white and unmarked. It also has a dark face patch. The female, on the other hand, has strong streaking (brown and gray) on its back, sides, and chest. It has a pale eye stripe and dark ear patch. Its underbelly is also white but with some streaks. The juvenile purple finch looks just like the adult female. The purple finch has a short tail which is notched. Its bill is straight.
This bird prefers to inhabit coniferous forests and mixed forests in the lowlands. They are in competition with the house finch so they avoid the more heavily populated urban areas. They can be found in rural residential areas.
They build their nest on a horizontal branch of a coniferous tree, usually at some distance from the trunk. It also nests in a fork in a tree. The nest is shaped like an open cup and is made up of rootlets, twigs, and weeds. For the lining, materials such as grass, hair, and moss are used. It is the female bird which builds the nest.
The male Purple Finch applies a lot of effort to attract the female during mating season. It executes a series of hops and does a lot of singing. It may hop as high as 12 inches into the air and puffs out its chest and cocks its tail while doing so.
Their diet consists mainly of seeds and insects. It also forages along the ground and in foliage to find buds of trees and weeds. It also eats berries and small fruits. When building a feeder, make sure you have an ample supply of sunflower seeds and millet.