Purple Finch

Haemorhous purpureus
Range Map

Purple Finches breed in coniferous and mixed forest habitats. We find them in Canada and the northeastern United States, as well as various wooded areas along the Pacific coast of the USA.

Eastern populations of this finch have suffered from the introduction of House Finches in the 1940s. House Finches out-compete this species as much as 95% of the time. The Purple Finch lives as long as 14 years.

Early observers called out five subspecies, but H. p. nesophilus, H. p. taverneri, and H. p. rubidus have been dropped from the current classification listing. Modern research recognises only two subspecies of Purple Finch:

  • H. p. purpureus breeds in southern Canada and the northeastern USA. In winter they migrate mostly to the southeastern USA, Texas and Florida.
  • H. p. californicus breeds from British Columbia to northern Baja California. During winter, some move south to southeastern California, Arizona, and northwestern Baja California (Mexico).

Until recently, I had not met these birds outside of California. All of those were in the highlands of either southern California, or the eastern Sierra-Nevada range. In the spring of 2022, while traveling up the Oregon coast, I found them at Clay Myers State Natural Area near Pacific City. In 2023, I traveled to the Canadian Great Lakes and eastern North America, where I found them to be the most common finch in the region.

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