Saturday, August 28, 2004

Is a "Purple Finch" purple?

Is a "Purple Finch" purple?

I watched a documentary on birds while i was at the saloon today and came across a bird that attracted my utmost attention as it was called the "Purple Finch". Yes it may be called a purple finch, but no it is not a purple bird.

The name "Purple Finch" tends to be misleading. The bird is no more purple than it is yellow or blue. Crimson finch would be a more appropriate name. (However, the "purple" of the Bible and of classical writers was not very different from the red of the male purple finch.) The species has also been called "linnet" and even "purple grosbeak." Purple Finches are named for the raspberry-red color of the males. The raspberry color is deepest on the head, nape, face, throat, breast, flanks, and rump. The hindneck, back, and scapular feathers are deep red streaked with brown. Wings and tail are brown and the belly and undertail coverts are white. Now why is it called purple again? The female does not even have a shade near purple. Females are quite different, lacking any red color. The head is pale brown, with fine dark streaks, and a dark ear patch separating a broad white suprecilium and a white moustache stripe. The white moustache stripe is separated from the white of the throat by a brown malar stripe. Back and scapulars are brown and streaked; the rump, tail, and wings are also brown, but unstreaked. Throat, breast, and flanks are white with heavy brown streaks. The belly and undertail coverts are unstreaked white.

The state bird of New Hampshire, the Purple Finch is a bird of coniferous and mixed forests, as well as park-like areas, breeding in the northeastern United States, across southern Canada, and in the Cascades and western Sierra Nevada ranges of the West Coast.

Well this is a little about the Purple Finch for you. Doesn't it still leave you wondering why it's called "Purple Finch" when it has not a single shade of purple?

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