How to Tell a Purple Finch and House Finch Apart

Updated: Nov 2

Differences between a house finch and purple finch.

Male House Finch Feeding Female House Finch


“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.



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.

House Finch vs Purple Finch







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