Verification of Unusual Sight Record
For Utah

Rec. # 2011-34

Common name:

Purple Finch

Scientific name: Carpodacus purpureus
Date: 05-30-2011
Time: 1600 hr
Length of time observed: 4-5 minutes
Number:  2
Age: Adult
Sex: Male
Location: Backyard feeder 1019 Rose, Logan, UT
County: Cache
Latilong:  3
Elevation: Approx. 4500'
Distance to bird: 12'-40'
Optical equipment: Leica 8X40
Weather: Cool, partly cloudy
Light Conditions: Good
Description:        Size of bird: 5-6"
(Description:)       Basic Shape: Granivore
(Description:)  Overall Pattern: Brown, red and white
(Description:)            Bill Type: Seedeater
Field Marks and
Identifying Characteristics:
After a productive morning of backyard activity including a male rose-breasted grosbeak, I spotted two male finches at a sunflower feeder. Cassin's and house finches (more of the former) were also at the feeders. The distinct red head, chin and breast caught my attention immediately. I had the pleasure of watching purple finches in the San Diego area for a month in late February to late March; this experience helped convince me I wasn't watching a testosterone-rich male house finch. The broad eye stipe was similar to the Cassin's finch. However, I did not see the under-tail coverts that would have been conclusive evidence. As it stands I now have purple finches as a backyard species.
Song or call & method of delivery: N.A.
Behavior:  Feeding on sunflower kernals from a feeder on a locust tree; perching on a nearby linden and magnolia and flying about between trees
Habitat: Backyard, see Behavior above
Similar species and how
were they eliminated:
House finches were eliminated due to the lack of continuity and brightness in the red featheration on the back of the head, the chin and breast. Cassin's finches were eliminated due to the bright red "burr-cut" of feathers on their heads and the light rose breast coloration.
Previous experience with
this & similar species:
San Diego, CA in winter 2011. Previous jobs in northern and southern California.
References consulted: Sibley's
Description from: From memory
Observer: C. Val Grant
Observer's address: 1019 Rose, Logan, UT 84341
Observer's e-mail address:
Other observers who independently identified this bird: N. A.
Date prepared: 6-28-2011
Additional material: