Purple Finches are very easily confused with House Finches, with the most confusing factor being the fact that they’re both red. I suppose if you’re a person who is sensitive to color, you might detect a tiny bit of purple in the Purple Finch, but most people aren’t going to perceive color to that level of subtlety.
The most obvious distinguishing characteristics of the Purple Finch are as follows:
- The Purple Finch has red coloring from its head and breast onto its back and wings. The red on House Finches is more confined to the head and breast.
- The tail of the Purple Finch is shorter and more deeply notched than the tail of the House Finch.
- The Purple Finch is slightly more raspberry red, whereas the House Finch tends slightly more toward orange.
- The House Finch has heavy brown streaking under its wings, the Purple Finch has little to none.
All of the above pertains only to the male of both species. The females have no red at all and are even more difficult to differentiate, but that’s for another post.