Purple Finch, Carpodacus purpureus
We have been fortunate over the last few days to have at least three Purple Finches visiting our feeders regularly. There is an adult male, a juvenile male and a female.
This species breeds farther north than the Waterloo region in the conifer forests of Northern Ontario and generally is sedentary if the seed mast is adequate to provision them through the winter. If the conifer seeds within the breeding range are in short supply, however, a southward migration occurs and this is the situation this year. We can expect to see Purple Finches throughout the winter in our area and many will migrate even farther south.
They often associate with American Goldfinches Carduelis tristis and Pine Siskins Carduelis pinus and, in fact, yesterday we saw the first Pine Siskin of the fall at our feeders also. American Goldfinches are year round residents and are customary visitors to our backyard.
Observers unfamiliar with this species should have no difficulty separating it from the superficially similar House Finch Carpodacus mexicanus by consulting a reliable field guide. Even the females can be told apart with a little practice.