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Confused about I.D.

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For years we've had what we assumed to be house finches. I know, everyone has them and they're everywhere. Today one came to the feeder that looked biger and more red than the rest.

Looking in the bird book, I thought I was looking at a purple finch, then I realize that at least in the book it says that house finches are only found on the west coast and south west. Have I been seeing purple finches all along?

What's the scoop? What have we been seeing all along and was todays visiter something different or just a big male???

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Don, how old is your book? Years ago, house finches were a rarity in MN. My Sibley guide shows them common throughout the U.S. year round now.

My Stoke's guide that I just bought, copyright 1996, shows them just on the coasts.

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The book is old. So they probably are house finches? And this mornings visitor could have been a purple finch? If so, it is the first I've seen here. I know we've had them at the cabin in NW Wisconsin.

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The males are a little harder to identify. I know most of mine are house finches. Earlier this winter I had a couple purple finches. As you say--a little bigger and a richer red. I still could not be sure except that the females are markedly different. They have a white eyebrow, and look very much like a female red-breasted grosbeak that has shrunken down in size.

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