Verification of Unusual Sight Record
For Utah

Rec. # 2007-38

Common name:

Purple Finch

Scientific name: Carpodacus purpureus
Date: 09/07/07
Time: 11:30
Length of time observed: 2-3 minutes
Number: 1
Age: adult female/ first year male?
Sex: female/ first year male
Location: Lytle Ranch, Beaver Dam Wash
County: Washington
Latilong: 19
Elevation: ~820 m
Distance to bird: 10 - 30 m
Optical equipment: 8 x 42 Leica binoculars
Weather: clear calm
Light Conditions: mid-day sunlight
Description:        Size of bird: See below
(Description:)       Basic Shape:  
(Description:)  Overall Pattern:  
(Description:)            Bill Type:  
Field Marks and
Identifying Characteristics:
Sighting: Larry Tripp and I saw a female type Carpodacus finch at Lytle Ranch. We heard a bird repeatedly giving a musical two-syllable call note from a box elder along the main road north from the orchard. Neither of us was familiar with this call, but before we could locate the bird it flew down into the alfalfa field, about 10 feet from us. We walked towards the bird and it flushed and flew across the field and perched (along with a bunch of sparrows) in a large box elder on the west edge of the alfalfa field. It gave a single pick as it flew out. Still not sure what the bird was, we eventually located it perched in the tree, continuing to give it s two-note call and discovered it was finch and quickly settled on a Purple Finch. We believe it was of the Pacific race, due to an olive/yellowish wash on the head. The finch then flew off to the south; we tracked it and thought it landed in the large mulberry tree in the orchard, but could not relocate it when we made it down there. We spent awhile listening for it s distinctive chu-weeh call, but could not relocate it. Before it flew, we were able to get some views of the bird noting bill shape, streaking, head pattern, etc., and apparently the pick call is diagnostic of Purple Finch.

Description: Larger and more robust than a House Finch, similiarly but more boldly marked. Upperparts with a buffy olive wash. Head round with large triangular bill, brown crown, pale white supercilium, brown auricular patch, dark eye with no eyering, pale malar, dark brown lateral throat stripe, pale throat. Back brownish, washed with olive, and darker streaks on middle of back, wings brown, tail brown and distinctly notched. Breast, sides, belly, and flanks densely streaked with long, broad, slightly blurry streaks; buffy pale background on upper breast
gradually more white towards undertail coverts. Undertail coverts without obvious streaking. We did not note the primary length or any primary/ tertial edging. 
Song or call & method of delivery: We heard the bird repeatedly giving a musical two-syllable call note ( chu-weeh ) from a box elder along the main road north from the orchard. It gave a single pick call in flight as it flushed
from an alfalfa field. Larry and I were both unfamiliar with the perched call and the flight call; neither were anything we were familiar with in southwestern Utah.
Behavior: Calling from tree top, quick and direct flight down into an alfalfa field, flew up and across field and perched high in another tree, continued calling, then flew direct, high, and fast off down the wash at least for several hundred meters.
Habitat: Alfalfa fields, riparian vegetation (box elders, willows, ash, cottonwoods, etc.), orchard
Similar species and how
were they eliminated:
Female/ first year male Cassin s Finch very similar but more distinctly brown and white without olive wash to upperparts, with distinct streaking on underparts shorter and more crisp, distinct eyering, usually dense streaking on undertail coverts, and more prominently streaked back.

Female / first year male House Finch superficially similar, but smaller with a slimmer body and longer tail, lacking obvious face pattern, and small bill with a obviously curved culmen.

Perhaps the most important identifying characteristic we observed was the pick flight call, which is diagnostic of a Purple Finch (and no similar calls are given by any other Carpodacus finches).
Previous experience with
this & similar species:
I've observed all the North American Caropdacus finches many times.
References consulted:  
Description from: Notes made later
Observer: Rick Fridell
Observer's address: 3505 West 290 North
Observer's e-mail address:
Other observers who independently identified this bird: Larry Tripp
Date prepared: 10/30/07
Additional material:  
Additional Comments: Description above is copied and pasted from my field notes, completed the afternoon following the sighting.