Most of the raspberry-colored finches we see are male House Finches. However, a few of us may see Purple Finches migrate south, feeding in nomadic foraging flocks. Look for the lower sides and belly to be “clean” or white (not brown streaked) on the male Purple Finch. The female Purple Finch has a distinctive white eyebrow and white lower cheek patch.
A common misconception is that Purple Finches are purple. Their scientific name, Carpodacus Purpureus, may be the source of confusion. Purpureus is actually a Latin word that means “crimson”.
Purple finches prefer open woods or woodland edges and are often seen in flocks of up to 50. They’re more subdued than House Finches, which tend to be more active and noisier.
Purple Finches mostly eat seeds, particularly those from Ash Trees. They’re scattered around the state in the winter, but may visit seed feeders alongside House Finches.