South Dakota
Birds and Birding
Like this page? Give me a +1!!

Purple Finch

Carpodacus purpureus

Length: 6 inches Wingspan: 10 inches Seasonality: Winter
ID Keys: Compare to House Finch, with more distinct facial pattern, more uniform red on male

Purple Finch - Carpodacus purpureusA winter visitor often seen at home feeders.  Purple Finch populations in the East have been hard hit, first by competition with the introduced House Sparrow, and then by the introduction and spread of the House Finch in the East.  The photo on the right shows a male, while additional photos of both males and females can be found at the bottom of the page.Basic Text goes in here first

Habitat: Prefers coniferous or mixed woods for breeding (outside of South Dakota).  Found in a wide variety of habitats during migration and in winter, including forest edges and openings, brushy fields, and residential areas. 

Diet: Primarily seeds in the winter, also some fruit and berries.  Will occasionally feed on insects in the summer.

Behavior: Often gregarious outside of the breeding season, foraging in small flocks.  Will forage at nearly any level, from the ground up through the forest canopy.

Breeding: Non-breeder in South Dakota.  In their breeding range, the nest is a small cup built of weed stems, twigs, strips of bark, and other material, lined with softer material such as grasses or animal hair.  The female lays between 2 and 7 eggs, and she alone incubates them.  When the eggs hatch, both parents help to feed the young.  The young leave the nest after about 2 weeks.

Song: Purple Finch Song

Migration: Summers in Canada, winters in the eastern half of the U.S.  Also found in all seasons in the Northeast U.S., the Great Lakes area, and along the West Coast.

Similar Species: House Finch, Cassin's Finch.  See ID Keys for Purple Finch and House Finch.

Bird Feeders: Will attend feeders for sunflower seeds and millet.

Conservation Status: There are undoubtedly declines in the Eastern United States due to competition with House Sparrows and House Finches.  However, they are still relatively common and widespread, and the IUCN lists the Purple Finch as a species of "Least Concern".

Further Information: 1) USGS Patuxent Bird Identification InfoCenter, Purple Finch

2) Cornell University's "All About Birds - Purple Finch"

3) Purple Finch

Photo Information: November 15th, 2007 - Big Sioux Recreation Area near Brandon, South Dakota

Additional Photos: Click on the image chips or text links below for additional, higher-resolution Purple Finch photos.


Click on the range map for a higher-resolution view 
Purple Finch - Species Range Map
South Dakota Status: Irregular winter visitor in the eastern part of the state, common to absent, most common in the northeastern part of the state.  Rare in the western part of the state.