Here is a recent photo of a male House Finch (Haemorhous mexicanus) on a snowy afternoon. The beautiful red shades of this guy really stand out against the drab surroundings, and their cheery songs can already be heard here in February on some of the warmer, sunnier days. It is one of the first signs of “spring” as the days began to grow longer. The Purple Finch (Haemorhous purpureus) is a similar species and often confused with the House Finch, especially because both enjoy coming to backyard bird feeders.
Roger Tory Peterson described the Purple Finch as having been “dipped in raspberry juice” which is a helpful way to determine whether or not the male you are seeing is a Purple or a House. You can see in this photo the red shade – not so much raspberry, or purple – is mostly restricted to parts of the head and extends only partway down the breast. The male Purple Finch will have at least a purple shade to the entire head, nape, and breast, even extending down the sides, into the wings and on the rump. Remember that juice and you will be fine!
Conservation & Outreach Coordinator