Verification of Unusual Sight Record
For Utah

Rec. # 2002-

Common name:

Purple Finch ("eastern")

Scientific name: Carpodacus purpureus
Date: 9/10/02-10/7/02
Length of time observed: Observed: several hours overall
Number: 1
Age: adult
Sex: female
Location: 8 miles west of Escalante
County: Garfield
Latilong: 37 44 N 111 43 W
Elevation: 6500'
Distance to bird: 10' to 50'
Optical equipment: various 10x40 & 8x42 binoculars
Weather: various
Light Conditions: various
Detailed description of bird: Bird_Description: see photos (not developed as of 11/11/02)
Song or call & method of delivery: call-note heard (and seen) once: "a light, dry, slightly metallic pick" (Advanced Birding, p. 268)
Behavior: very standoffish - seemed puzzled by other finch species - preferred to associate with me
Habitat: mature pinyon-juniper - homesite with a single black-oil sunflower-seed hanging feeder and only water (dish) in area
Similar species and
how were they eliminated:
Only Cassins Finch looks anything like this bird, unless one includes juvenile Red Crossbill, but that's a stretch. Since it looked like the Nat'l. Geog. illustration, I checked Sibley and was less sure. So, it is IDed with reference to Kaufman's
Advanced Birding, pp. 268-271:
call - purple, see above
bill - "eastern" purple
wing length - short, purple
breast color - "pearly grayish white", purple
breast streaks - "almost spotted", "eastern" purple
face pattern - strong, purple
malar stripe - "heavy, dark", purple
auriculars/ear coverts - "heavy, dark", purple
body shape (ill. p. 270) - even shorter, chunkier, blockier than purple illustrated
undertail covert streaking - never saw undertail clearly
upperparts tone - "browner", "eastern" purple
upper back - you notice the light streaks first, not the dark ones,
therefore purple
"A Note on Juveniles" paragraph makes it purple on the off chance it's a juv
Summary: On 12 comparisons, the bird is 12 to 0 a Purple Finch ("eastern" where there's a difference), with one comparison (undertail coverts) indeterminate.
Previous experience with this & similar species: I always struggled with this ID in Colorado, but did finally ID Purple MALE there. I'm reasonably familiar with Purple Finch in coastal California.
References consulted: National Geographic, Sibley and Kaufman as above
Description from: Notes taken at time of sighting
Observer: Jens Munthe
Observer's address: P.O.Box 80, Escalante, UT 84726
Observer's e-mail address:
Other observers who independently identified
this bird:
Kathy Munthe
Date prepared: 11/11/02  (Restricted)
Additional material: Photo
Additional comments: Well, it's on my list as Purple Finch, but please don't post this generally, especially since the bird is long gone and I can't submit the photos yet.