House Finch vs Purple Finch

House Finch vs Purple Finch: Learn The Differences!

We all are familiar with finches. They are seen near our houses and visit our backyards frequently. If you are a bird enthusiast, you will be curious to know more about different kinds of creatures. Right?  And have you ever thought about their types and habitat? 

We can see many types of finches around us, and house finches and purple finches are common among them. But identifying the difference between house finch vs purple finch can be tricky because they possess minute differences and many similarities. Here, I can help you by providing information related to the finches. This article is for you if you want to know more about these creatures. 

Female House Finch & Female Purple Finch: Migration & Nesting Explained!

By carefully observing their appearance and behavior, we can determine the hard-to-identify birds easily. Although they can be confusing at first glance, you can use many clues to differentiate them. Apart from the color and size, there are many differences among the beautiful finches. Let’s find out more about house finches vs purple finches. 

How can we analyze the differences between a house finch and a purple finch?

Many people often make mistakes while identifying the difference between these two species. When we talk about their residents, house finches are permanent residents of many states whereas the purple finches move from the south to many states during their non-breeding season. Purple finch can be seen in Canada and the northeast US, while house finch is native to western North America. 

Let’s jump into the detailed differences between these two species. 


When we look at the size of these two species, purple finches are slightly larger than house finches. Purple finches are 4.5 to 6.3 inches long and their weight ranges between 0.6 and 1.1 ounces. On the other hand, house finches are slightly smaller and thinner than purple finches. They are 5 to 6 inches long and weigh between 0.5 to 0.95 ounces. 


People often misunderstand that purple finches are purple, but no. they are not purple. Instead, the male purple finches are dark red throughout the body with a redhead and brownish wings. The female is brown with white streaks all over their body. We can identify female and male purple finches by a noticeable white mark above their eyes. In the case of house finches, males have red heads, necks, and shoulders. The red color may extend to the belly and down the back. Females are grayish brown and their head is plain without any distinctive markings.

🟣Body structure

As we discussed earlier, purple finches are slightly larger than house finches. But the house finches have round heads and look rounder. The purple finch has angular heads and a short tail. The bills of a house finch are more compact and curved than a purple finch.  The thing we should keep in mind is that the body shape of the finches can vary by a bird’s movement and posters. So, sometimes it can be difficult to identify them if they are watched from different distances and sizes. 


House finches are more than purple finches. Currently, there are about 267 million to 1.7 billion individual house finches. Purple finches are common in nature but not as house finches. They have estimated around 6.4 million individuals. 


Both birds have similar localization but their call notes are different. The house finches are louder than the purple finches so we can easily spot the birds listening to their longer chirp with a high pitch. The call of purple finches is soft and resembles a “Pik” sound.  


House finches are mostly active during the day. They are so social that they group with hundreds of other species for food. They don’t show any aggressiveness even in their breeding season. While the purple finches become territorial and aggressive during the breeding season. They use their body language to communicate. When they are aggressive, they show aggressive positions like low head forward, and high head forward, and display their bill. 

Female House Finch & Female Purple Finch

Do house finches and purple finches migrate?

Like hummingbirds, finches are also migrating birds. We cannot see them in a certain period. The Purple finches are usually short-distance migratory birds and their migration depends on the sources of food and the place they belong. They do not have a certain pattern of migration but migrate every year.

In contrast, house finches rarely migrate. They migrate depending on the weather. Some birds from the extreme northern and eastern edges may travel to the south in search of warmer places in winter. Most of the house finches are not migratory and barely move more than 5km from their home territory.

Female house finches and female purple finches

Both the female finches are not as colorful as the males. They are predominantly light brown with streaky plumage. The female purple finches have streaky brown plumage while males have red or scarlet breasts.

In the case of house finches, females are less streaky than males. Females do not have any particular patterns all over their bodies so we can easily identify them by males. Female Purple and house finches are dominant over males. They play a main role in nest build, during the breeding season, and feeding. 

Nesting of house finches and purple finches

House finches and purple finches build their nests in coniferous and deciduous forests. When we compare purple finches with house finches, they are more likely to build their nest in buildings and houses. Purple finches also build their nest in the building but they prefer denser lowland forests most often.

When we compare these two species, house finches are suitable for urban environments and purple finches prefer wild and first environments. So we can understand that house finches are more adaptable in the residential region and flexible with every type of surroundings.

The female purple finch lays 5-6 eggs at a time and protects them for around 14-15 days in their cup-sized nest that is made of twigs, leaves, moss, and sticks. The male finches collect food for the female finches. But the house finches mostly build their nest in hanging pots, trunks of trees, buildings, or near the feeder. 

Purple Finch

How to attract finches to your yard?

We can have a beautiful experience when these small creatures visit our backyard. For a bird lover, it is a pleasure to observe the activities of these birds. Finches are very popular with their unique acrobatic performance and colorful appearance. So everyone loves to watch them in their yard. We can attract them to our backyard by following several steps. 

1. Provide food to eat

Finches love to eat seeds. They eat different kinds of seeds but the most common seeds that we can feed them are sunflower seeds. In the wild, finches rely on other food sources such as plant matter, fruits, vegetables, insects, and some kinds of worms. If you want to attract them, you can offer them different types of seeds, nectar, fruits, and vegetables. 

2. Select a feeder

Using a feeder is the best way to attract finches to your backyard. The feeder that is installed in your yard should be only for finches. If your feeder is open to anyone, squirrels will finish all the food of finches. So, ensure that finches can access the food that you are providing. You can fill the feeders with seeds and water and leave them within the reach of finches.

3. Plant seed plants

As we discussed, finches are seed lovers. So planting seed-bearing plants can attract more finches to your backyard. 


It is an engaging and fun activity to watch birds. We can see plenty of creatures in our surroundings, but we cannot identify their uniqueness at first glance. We may think they are the same, but there are many differences in appearance, behavior, habitat, and nature. When we observe fast-moving birds like finches, it can be a challenging task to identify the species.

Once you identify their features, bird-watching can be more exciting and joyful. The article’s information about finches can help you to identify them whenever they visit your backyard. 

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