Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Birding in Tennessee: Purple Finch

The purple finch is a traveler. In Tennessee, these chunky little birds appear in the winter in flocks up to 50. They search for food along the edge of the wildwood, with most of their diet consisting of seeds. Occasionally, you might see a purple finch on a bird feeder - and they look alot like the House Finch.

Don't be disappointed if the purple finch doesn't appear very purply...the name comes from the Latin species purpureus, which means crimson. The males have a raspberry head with brownish wings; the females are heavily streaked brown and white with large white eyebrows.


Purple finch has a loud, melodic song and they also make a TIC note only in flight. There are many collective nouns for this bird species: a 'charm' a 'company' or a 'trembling' of finches. The purple finch is the state bird of New Hampshire.

So, where are the Tremblings of Purple Finches? Their erractic migration habits create a scientific puzzle – one that requires lots of data all collected simultaneously over a huge area for us to begin to understand. One great way to help scientists get a handle on finch movements is to contribute your sightings to the Avian Knowledge Network by participating in eBird

A delightful and indepth description of purple finches by John James Audubon (1785 - 1851) can be found on 50states.com

BIRDING is a series on wild birds in my home state. Follow Edge of the Wildwood for more interesting bird subjects in this ongoing series!

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