In top of dead branches of Locust trees with fields on one side and lots of shrubs and groundcover under trees
SIGHTING DURATION, CONDITIONS, and EQUIPMENT USED
I saw the bird in dead branches at top of Locust tree while walking west on the trail. I decided to get my scope on it and saw what I thought was a female/young male Cassin’s Finch. It was about 150 yds away. But scope gave me great views. I watched it for a several minutes and took a few digiscoped photos. It then flew closer to another locust tree (100 yds away) and I took more photos. It was mid-morning with sun behind me. Weather was cool but warming up with sun, probably 45-50 degrees, not much wind – a perfect fall morning. I watched and photographed the bird for several minutes before it flew off. I used my Zeiss 8x42 Victory binoculars and Zeiss Victory 20x60 scope with a phoneSkope attachment for photos. When a bird sits up for me I try to take as many photos as possible just to practice and get photos on my ebird lists. I was very fortunate to get so many of this cooperative bird.
DID YOU TAKE NOTES?
No, not at all
DID YOU CONSULT A FIELD GUIDE OR OTHER REFERENCE WORK?
Yes, another day after the observation
WHICH GUIDE(S) OR REFERENCE(S): DID YOU CONSULT?
I did not consult a Field Guide at the time because I thought it was a CAFI, but did a couple of days later when got notice that my photos showed it was a Purple Finch and not the Cassin’s Finch I thought it was.
After getting notice that bird was a probable Purple Finch, I looked at Sibley’s Field Guide, and several internet spots which gave me information and more photos of Purple Finch and comparisons with other finches. One of the main ones I used was Cornel’s Project FeederWatch page showing all three Carpodacus finches and how to tell them apart.
DESCRIPTION OF THE BIRD(s)
Finch family. It’s either a young male or adult female. Overall a brownish bird about 6”. Face pattern has a light white eyebrow, brown check patch, and light stripe below the eye making a striped face pattern. Bill is stout and slightly curved. Belly area is whitish with short thick smudgy streaks. Under tail area is white with no streaks. Tail is notched. From what I have read, it would be of the Pacific subspecies.
BEHAVIOR OF THE BIRD(s)
Bird was at top dead branches of locust tree just looking around. It flew closer to another locust tree for even better looks for me. It didn’t interact with any other birds as I watched it. After several minutes it flew off towards wooded area.
HOW AND WHEN DID YOU POSITIVELY IDENTIFY THE BIRD, AND WHAT CLINCHED THE IDENTIFICATION FOR YOU?
I originally thought this bird was a female Cassin’s finch and reported it as such in my ebird report. When I got an email from an ebird reviewer saying that my photos showed the bird to be a Purple Finch, I did some looking through Sibley’s field guide and some internet searching to discover for myself why this bird would be a Purple Finch. As I did the research, I became convinced that it was indeed a Purple Finch and changed my ebird report. What finally clinched the ID for me were the field marks that showed the difference between the 2 species – noted below.
HOW DID YOU ELIMINATE SIMILAR SPECIES? WHAT WERE THEY?
Cassin’s Finch – would have a weak face pattern, pale eye ring, narrow sharp defined streaks on belly area, under tail area would show defined streaks on white.
House finch – would have a plain head, not much of a facial pattern, long blurry streaks on belly area, bill would be short and curved.
WHAT IS YOUR EXPERIENCE WITH THIS (AND SIMILAR) SPECIES?
I have had very little experience with PUFI and that’s why I thought the bird in question was a CAFI. It just didn’t occur to me that it would be a PUFI. While visiting in Maine in 2009, I saw a number of PUFI at friend’s feeder; saw 1 other PUFI in Idaho in 2015 and 1 in OR in 2013. So not much experience! But lots of experience with CAFI from seeing them in higher elevations in Idaho, so mind just went with what it was familiar with when saw the bird. Good lesson for me!
Lots of experience with House finch and knew this bird was not that.
DESCRIBE YOUR GENERAL BIRDING EXPERIENCE
I’m an intermediate birder with 15 years’ experience.
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION (If any)
I should have known better than to pass this bird off as a CAFI instead of really looking at the bird and it’s field marks. Good lesson for me.
WERE PHOTO(S), VIDEO, AND/OR AUDIO OBTAINED FROM THIS SIGHTING?
FIRST ROUND VOTING:
Photos are of a Purple Finch.
Description and photos are convincing
Diagnostic photos show a female Purple Finch, apparently of the eastern race, based on the short crisp streaks on the breast, a moderate primary projection, longer bill with only slightly-curved culmen, and bold head pattern.
Description only moderately supports identification, but photos diagnostic.
The photos were convincing.
Photos show unstreaked undertail, curved bill etc.