How to Identify a Finch

Finches are small, brightly colored wild birds that can be seen all over the place. You can identify the type of each finch by looking at its coloring, listening to its song, or the habitat it is accustomed to (the area that it likes to live in). In North America, the purple finch, the American goldfinch, and the house finch are the most common. So this article will be explaining the different characteristics of those. Other finches are common elsewhere in the world.


  1. Image titled Identify a Finch Step 1
    Find a pair of binoculars and set up a bird feeder in your yard. You can keep a wild bird book to reference if you'd like. Basically, get ready to bird watch.
  2. Image titled Identify a Finch Step 2
    Look for identifying colors. The ones that have raspberry or magenta feathers almost from head to tail are the purple finches. The bright yellow ones with black wings are the American goldfinches (you can see where the name came from). The ones that have vermillion (orangey-red) feathers on their head, breast, and back are the house finches.
  3. Image titled Identify a Finch Step 3
    Pay attention to your landscaping. Purple finches like a dry landscape, while house finches and American goldfinches prefer the typical American backyard. The latter two can also be found in meadows, orchards and farmland.
  4. Image titled Identify a Finch Step 4
    Know the favoured areas of finches common where you live. Each of these birds have favored areas. The American goldfinch can be found almost everywhere in America except Alaska and Hawaii. The purple finch can be found in the Southwest, near Texas, Arizona, and New Mexico. The house finch seems to enjoy habitats to the East of the Mississippi River. Compare this with a European Goldfinch.
  5. Image titled Identify a Finch Step 5
    Identify European Green Finches by seeing they are larger than most other finches and predominantly green. These can be found in many European countries and in New Zealand.
  6. Image titled Identify a Finch Step 6
    Know what a Chaffinch looks like.
  7. Image titled Identify a Finch Step 7
    Spot pretty pink Bull Finches.


  • American goldfinches are the most common, as you can tell from the information above. They might be the first ones you see.
  • If you don't have a bird feeder you can easily make one. There are many different ways if you'd take a second to look it up.
  • That wild bird book might come in handy if you want to identify any other bird you see during your bird watching session.


  • Remember! Most finches are only about 6 inches (15.2 cm) long from beak to tail. You're probably really going to need binoculars to be able to see the feathers.
  • If you get way to close, the birds might be scared and fly away! Keep your distance! (this is another point that proves the necessity of binoculars.)

Sources and Citations

Article Info

Categories: Birdwatching