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How to Tell a Purple Finch and House Finch Apart

Updated: Jan 16

Differences between a house finch and purple finch.

Male House Finch Feeding Female House Finch

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“In order to see birds it is necessary to become a part of the silence.” Robert Lynd

We are lucky and have both Purple Finches and House Finches visit our feeders during the winter. The first time the purple finches arrived we quickly realized that it can be hard to tell the difference between the house finch and purple finch.

If you are unsure which bird you are seeing, the first thing you will want to do it check a map. House finches are very common across North America. Purple Finches are less common and are only seen during migration and non-breeding times of the year.

Male Purple Finch


One of the best apps for identifying birds is the Merlin Bird ID app. It allows you to enter the date, area, size and main colors of the bird. In turn, it will give you a list of birds that can be seen in the area that matches the description. It also has bird sounds and maps which come in really handy.

The purple finch and house finch can be identified by their physical characteristics. These doppelgangers might look a lot alike, but if you have a keen eye and a good set of birding binoculars you can do it.



Birder Journal, Bird Watching Journal, Bird Watching Log Book, Bird Journal

We read many articles and blog posts to learn the differences between the House Finch and Purple Finch. All the information was overwhelming and confusing. There is so much unnecessary stuff to read through to find out basic information.

To make things easier, we have put together pictures with tags. We hope this information will help you distinguish the difference between a house finch and purple finch.

How to tell the difference between a House Finch and Purple Finch. Birdwatching enthusiasts often find joy in identifying different bird species. Two commonly confused species, the Purple Finch and the House Finch, share similar habitats and appearances, making differentiation a delightful challenge. In the pictures below, you are able to see characteristics that will help you distinguish between these beautiful finches.


  1. Head Markings

  2. Bill Shape

  3. Color

  4. Tail

  5. Streaking

House Finch vs Purple Finch




Love watching birds? Use our free Ohio Birding Checklist to easily keep track of the diverse bird species you spot. It's a simple way to enhance your birdwatching experience and appreciate Ohio's rich birdlife. Happy birding!


Free Ohio Birding Checklist

Free Ohio Birding Checklist


By paying attention to these subtle yet crucial physical differences, you will know exactly how to tell a Purple Finch and House Finch apart. Finch or a House Finch.



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