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With just a little practice, this doesn't need to be a nemesis when it comes to ID. (and I still have a lot of those...)

Both male and female purple finches will have a solid white undertail where the house finch would be streaked. It's not always easy to pick up on that little area just under the tail but once you learn to look for that, it helps.
With the male, on a house finch the streaking will go ALL the way down and you'd see a lot of brown on there. With the purple finch there's some streaking but most of it's quite purple like you can see in your bird there.

With the females(again, aside from the undertail) the facial markings are a good key. You'll notice some heavy white-ish marks on the face including a nice big eyebrow stripe. Check out some pictures of a female house finch and you'll notice that it's more of just a plain brown head without such markings.

With a little practice these will start to become easier and easier.
A beautiful bird either way. We love seeing them when they're here. Seems to be a decent year for them this winter season.

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14 hours ago, millipede said:

With just a little practice, this doesn't need to be a nemesis when it comes to ID. (and I still have a lot of those...)

Both male and female purple finches will have a solid white undertail where the house finch would be streaked. It's not always easy to pick up on that little area just under the tail but once you learn to look for that, it helps.
With the male, on a house finch the streaking will go ALL the way down and you'd see a lot of brown on there. With the purple finch there's some streaking but most of it's quite purple like you can see in your bird there.

With the females(again, aside from the undertail) the facial markings are a good key. You'll notice some heavy white-ish marks on the face including a nice big eyebrow stripe. Check out some pictures of a female house finch and you'll notice that it's more of just a plain brown head without such markings.

With a little practice these will start to become easier and easier.
A beautiful bird either way. We love seeing them when they're here. Seems to be a decent year for them this winter season.

Thanks for the key ID points, millipede!  I can usually ID the females of either species, it is the males that give me trouble.  

 

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Male House Finches have the entire head of the same relative tone, whereas on both Purple and Cassin's, the supercilium is noticeably paler-toned.  Additionally, the flank streaking on adult males of both Cassin's and Purple are virtually contained within the "purple" coloration, whereas the streaking on male House Finches is outside the reddish color below (generally on white).  Also, note that House Finches achieve adult-like plumage in their first fall, whereas males of the other two species are ~15 months old before they get the typical male coloration; in their first winter, they look like females.

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