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Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center

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Forest and Rangeland Birds of the United States

Natural History and Habitat Use

Purple Finch -- Carpodacus purpureus

RANGE: Breeds from northern British Columbia, southern Yukon, and northern and central Alberta east to central Ontario and Newfoundland south to Baja California, and, east of the Great Plains, to central Minnesota, northern Ohio, West Virginia, and southeastern New York. Winters from southwestern British Columbia south to Baja California, and from southern Manitoba east to Newfoundland, south to Texas, the Gulf Coast, and Florida.

STATUS: Common.

HABITAT: Generally inhabits coniferous forest edge, open mixed woodlands, and evergreen plantations. Also occurs in conifers in parks and residential areas. In winter, commonly congregates around houses with feeding stations, roosting in dense evergreens or thickets.

NEST: In the East, places nest on a horizontal branch of a conifer, especially spruce, but occasionally in a deciduous tree or shrub. In the West, commonly nests in both deciduous and coniferous trees, preferably near water. Often locates nest near tree tops, up to 40 feet above the ground.

FOOD: During winter and spring, primarily eats seeds, while in late spring and summer adds insects and wild and cultivated fruits to diet. Gleans much of its food from the branches of trees and shrubs.

REFERENCES: Bent 1968a, DeGraff et al. 1980, Forbush and May 1955, Johnsgard 1979.

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