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Friday, November 16, 2007

Purple Finch, Irruptive Species

Purple Finch, male

Purple Finch, female

Another bird feeder favorite that might be classified as an irruptive species is the Purple Finch. Purple Finches breed in parts of the upper eastern quadrant of the U.S., the West Coast and across the boreal forest. The eastern subspecies is somewhat brighter that the western subspecies. In years where there is a lack of winter food in their usual range, they "irrupt" and move to other areas, such as going deeply down into the eastern U.S. There are current reports that in November they, as well the other irruptive species, Pine Siskins and Red-breasted Nuthatches, are being see as far south as Alabama.
Do not confuse the Purple Finch with the more common House Finch. Both males are red, but the male Purple Finch has much less streaking on his sides and belly than the male House Finch. Female Purple Finches have a white eyebrow that helps distinguish them from female House Finches.
As we have said, this is shaping up to be a banner year for irruptive species. Keep looking this winter and if you see some, let us know in the comments section or email us.


Anonymous said...

I love these Irruptive Species, I didn't realize what they were called. Your beautiful, sharp photos bring them up close to enjoy.The head of the Purple Finch male looks like velvet. I wish we had some, but I'll keep looking. Carol

Lillian Stokes said...

We got this email from Beth,

"For the last month or so, we've had a fair number of both purple finches and
red-breasted nuthatches in Central Park this year. No sign of the pine siskins
or cross-bills yet - that would be great!"

Lillian Stokes said...

It would be great if you got Crossbills or Pine Siskins. White-winged and Red Crossbills eat the seeds out of pine cones so look for them on coniferous trees. Pine Siskins eat a variety of small seeds and come to bird feeders for thistle (Nyjer)seed and sunflower.

Purple Finches also like bird feeders and also eat sunflower and thistle. Best bet is to keep several feeders full with these birds favorite seeds.

Anonymous said...

I'm happy to report that Red Crossbills have made it to central Oklahoma this winter. We've had some in Norman for a few weeks, and I just found a flock in Stillwater. These birds were feeding on pecans in addition to pine cones.

~Tim O'Connell, Stillwater