Family Finches (Fringillidae)

Least Concern

Purple Finch (Haemorhous purpureus)


French: Roselin pourpré German: Purpurgimpel Spanish: Camachuelo purpúreo

Fringilla purpurea

J. F. Gmelin

, 1789,

South Carolina, USA


Genetic study has revealed strong differentiation between E and W populations#R. Proposed races taverneri (described from NE Alberta, in W Canada) and nesophilus (from Newfoundland, in E Canada) considered clinal variants within nominate race, and rubidus (from W Washington, in NW USA) a synonym of californicus. Two subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • H. p. californicus (S. F. Baird, 1858) – Western Purple Finch – SW Canada (British Columbia) S along Pacific coast of W USA to California (Coast Ranges, Cascade Mts and W Sierra Nevada); non-breeding also to SE California, Arizona and extreme NW Mexico (NW Baja California).
  • H. p. purpureus (J. F. Gmelin, 1789) – Eastern Purple Finch – S Canada (except SW) and NE USA; migrates mostly to SE USA S to C Texas and N Florida.
  • Descriptive notes

    13·5–14·5 cm; 17·5–28·4 g. Medium-sized, stoutly built, large-billed rosefinch with notched tail. Male nominate race has forehead to... read more


    Song, usually by male from regular and prominent perch at top of tree or during display-flight, a... read more


    Open conifer woods and forests, also mixed deciduous and conifer, especially pine-oak (Pinus... read more

    Food and feeding

    Mostly seeds, buds, shoots, blossom and nectar of trees; also some insects and larvae. Seeds, buds and shoots include those of elm (... read more


    Season Apr to early Aug; two broods. Monogamous. Solitary. Displaying male raises crest, fluffs out breast feathers, flutters wings... read more


    Resident and migratory. Present within breeding range throughout year from S Manitoba E to S... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Common to locally common; often numerous on migration and in wintering areas. Status in Baja California (NW Mexico) unclear; may be scarce resident... read more

    Recommended citation

    Clement, P. (2020). Purple Finch (Haemorhous purpureus). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 26 February 2020).