What are these speckledy birds?

purple finch female

Yesterday I spied these birds out back and wondered what they were. Grabbed my camera and took some photos so I could go online and search out an ID.

Maybe the more easily camouflaged female of some familiar species?

purple finch females

Yes. Purple finches, it seems.

(The one on the left seems to have been eating something red and sticky.)

Cornell Lab of Ornithology (click through for photos)…

Male Purple Finches are delicate pink-red on the head and breast, mixing with brown on the back and cloudy white on the belly. Female Purple Finches have no red. They are coarsely streaked below, with strong facial markings including a whitish eyestripe and a dark line down the side of the throat.


Among the small forest birds like chickadees, kinglets, and nuthatches, Purple Finches are large and chunky. Their powerful, conical beaks are larger than any sparrow’s. The tail seems short and is clearly notched at the tip.


Here is a male last winter.

Wikipedia article on sexual dimorphism includes a section on birds

Plumage dimorphism, in the form of ornamentation or coloration, also varies, though males are typically the more ornamented or brightly colored sex.[48] Such differences have been attributed to the unequal reproductive contributions of the sexes.[49] This difference produces a stronger female choice since they have more risk in producing offspring. In some species, the male’s contribution to reproduction ends at copulation, while in other species the male becomes the main caregiver. Plumage polymorphisms have evolved to reflect these differences and other measures of reproductive fitness, such as body condition[50] or survival.[51] The male phenotype sends signals to females who then choose the ‘fittest’ available male.

purple finches

These two seem to be in conversation!

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