51-B-2017 Purple Finch

STATUS
Accepted
DATE VOTING COMPLETED
1ST ROUND
5-2
2ND ROUND
6-1
HOW MANY OBSERVED?
1 male
DATE SIGHTING OCCURRED
DATE REPORT PREPARED
REPORTER
Cheryl Huizinga
OTHER OBSERVERS
None
LOCALITY OF OBSERVATION
Backyard of my house in Canyon Co. Idaho
HABITAT WHERE THE BIRD WAS OBSERVED
Observed in backyard where I scatter seeds for wild birds. Ours is a typical backyard with lots of shrubs and trees. I also have several feeders and water baths for wild birds.
SIGHTING DURATION, CONDITIONS, and EQUIPMENT USED
I saw bird both in the morning of 10/9 and in afternoon of 10/10. Lighting was good both days with temps in 40’s in morning and 60’s in afternoon. Not much wind either days. Distance to the bird was within 10 ft. of back window where I keep a pair of binoculars (Kahles 8x42) to watch the backyard birds. Both observations were about 5-10 minutes long while bird fed on scattered seed with dark-eyed juncos and house finch.
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 weird looking Cassin’s finch. I did do a lot of research once figured out what it really was.
DESCRIPTION OF THE BIRD(s)
Finch family: This was a male bird. When I first saw the bird feeding on scattered seed near my back window, I thought it was a weird looking Cassin’s Finch, but it didn’t quite match the other male Cassin’s Finch I’ve seen. Most striking to me was its head – its entire head was a deep rosy-red color with darker stripes of pinkish red along the sides of the head. This deep rosy-red color continued down the upper back. The rump also had this rosy-red color. The breast/belly area was also a rosy-red which extended down into the belly area. The bill was stout and conical. There was no whitish eye-ring. I could tell it was a finch-type bird and was the same size of the house finches feeding near it.
BEHAVIOR OF THE BIRD(s)
It was feeding with house finches and dark-eyed juncos on my patio where I scatter seed for birds. It was acting like a typical finch bird, flying away when something spooked them and coming back to feed some more when coast was clear.
HOW AND WHEN DID YOU POSITIVELY IDENTIFY THE BIRD, AND WHAT CLINCHED THE IDENTIFICATION FOR YOU?
I recorded the bird in my ebird lists for both days ( Oct 9th and 10th) as a Cassin’s finch. On Monday, Oct 9th I recorded a Cassin’s Finch from my walk at Deer Flat NWR along Kingfisher Trail and took several photos of that cooperative bird. When I received an email from an Ebird reviewer on Wednesday, Oct. 11th saying that bird was a probably Purple Finch, I started to do some homework on finches. When I saw the field marks for a male Purple Finch, I knew instantly that that was the bird I had seen feeding at my house! Wow! Now I knew I didn’t have a weird looking Cassin’s finch, I had a Purple Finch!
HOW DID YOU ELIMINATE SIMILAR SPECIES? WHAT WERE THEY?
The other two Carpodacus species would be the similar ones to Purple Finch- Cassin’s and House finch.
Cassin’s finch: This is what I originally thought I had but knew it wasn’t quite right. The body shape to Purple Finch is similar but the Cassin’s I have seen have just a bright red crown which contrasts with the rest of its brownish/white body, where this bird’s entire head and continuing down into back area was a deep rosy-red color, different from Cassin’s. Cassin’s also don’t have the intense head pattern of the bird I saw. Bill and body shaped looked similar to Cassin’s though.
House finch: This is an everyday species for me at my feeders and I know it well. It’s not as strongly marked in the head area as either the Purple finch or Cassin’s, does not have the intense red coloring of either, and is a slimmer bird with a rounded head.
WHAT IS YOUR EXPERIENCE WITH THIS (AND SIMILAR) SPECIES?
I am familiar with both Cassin’s and House finch but hardly any with Purple finch. I went with Cassin’s when first seeing the bird because it just didn’t occur to me that it would be a PUFI. The last time I saw a male PUFI was while visiting a friend in Maine in 2009 when I saw a number of PUFI at her feeders and it was a Life Bird for me.
DESCRIBE YOUR GENERAL BIRDING EXPERIENCE
I’m an intermediate birder with 15 years’ experience.
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION (If any)
Seen Oct 9 and 10.
I did not take notes during observation except in my head, thinking about what a weird looking Cassin’s Finch this was.
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 to always really think about what I am looking at if it looks a bit different than the norm.
Additional eBird checklist: http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S39817835
I did not take any photos and really kick myself for not doing that. It would have been easy to get one from back window, and thought about it, but just didn’t. After figuring out what it really was, the bird didn’t show up again.
WERE PHOTO(S), VIDEO, AND/OR AUDIO OBTAINED FROM THIS SIGHTING?
None