|Purple Finch. Palomar Mountain, California. July 13, 2014. Greg Gillson.|
The separation of these common finches is a beginning and intermediate ID challenge. House Finches are now widespread in residential areas across North America. Purple Finches are found in mixed and conifer woods. Cassin's Finches are found in the pine forests of the Western mountains. Often their ranges overlap, so in many places in North America you can't just assume that you only get ONE species where you live.
I'm just talking about the red males. And the brown-striped females? Forget it. Actually, the females are identifiable, but it takes more work.
Want to know what other common birds are frequently misidentified? Read my post from last year in the Birding Is Fun! blog: Ten most misidentified birds in the Pacific Northwest.