What Is the State Bird of New Hampshire? – Purple Finches

The article explores the state bird of New Hampshire, which is the Purple Finch. New Hampshire, with its diverse landscapes, is home to various wildlife and bird species. The Purple Finch, though not actually purple, has pink and red-hued feathers and is commonly found in the west and north of the state. The article provides information on the appearance, behavior, and diet of Purple Finches, as well as answering frequently asked questions about them. It also delves into the history of how the Purple Finch became the official state bird of New Hampshire. Overall, the article aims to educate readers about this fascinating bird and its significance in the state of New Hampshire.

New Hampshire’s State Bird

The state bird of New Hampshire is the purple finch, a small bird native to the state. New Hampshire is known for its diverse landscapes, ranging from mountains to lakes, which attract a wide variety of wildlife and bird species. But why was the purple finch chosen as the state bird? Let’s explore more about this bird species and how it became the representative avian of New Hampshire.

1. Appearance

Contrary to its name, purple finches are not actually purple. Instead, they have pink and red-hued feathers. The males have light pink with red heads and breasts, while the females lack the red shade. Both genders have white stomachs and brown back feathers. Purple finches are often mistaken for house finches due to their color variations.

2. Behavior

Purple finches are territorial birds and often compete with house finches for their territories. Unfortunately, they tend to lose their territories to house finches. These finches prefer parklands, orchards, and evergreen forests as their habitats. They have been observed to avoid heavily populated areas and no longer settle in towns.

During the breeding season, which falls between April and August, purple finches become highly territorial, spending most of their time alone or in pairs. They are monogamous and can live up to 14 years in the wild.

3. Diet

Purple finches are primarily vegetarian, with berries, fruits, buds, and seeds making up a significant part of their diet. They are particularly fond of white millet, black oil sunflower seeds, and thistle seeds. If you want to attract them to your bird feeder, consider filling it with these food options.

These finches are known to forage high in the trees, and during the summer, they can sometimes be spotted on the ground as they dine on caterpillars and beetles.

What Is the State Bird of New Hampshire? - Purple Finches

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some frequently asked questions about the purple finch, the state bird of New Hampshire:

1. Why is the purple finch the state bird for New Hampshire?

The purple finch was chosen as the state bird of New Hampshire due to strong support from three prominent nature groups: the New Hampshire Federation of Garden Clubs, the State Federation of Women’s Clubs, and the Audubon Society of New Hampshire. Despite opposition from Representative Doris M. Spollett, who favored the New Hampshire Red bird, the purple finch emerged as the official state bird.

2. When did the purple finch become the state bird for New Hampshire?

On February 12, 1957, the purple finch bill, sponsored by Representative Robert S. Monahan, was presented to the House of Representatives. The bill then went before the House Committee on Recreation, Resources, and Development on March 27, 1957. Representative Monahan emphasized the need for swift action, as other states might choose the purple finch as their representative avian. Finally, on April 25, 1957, Governor Lane Dwinell officially signed the bill, making the purple finch the state bird of New Hampshire.

3. Are purple finches rare?

According to the conservation organization Partners in Flight, there are approximately 6.4 million purple finches worldwide. While their population trend has been declining due to their overlapping territory with house finches, they are currently not categorized as being at risk. BirdLife International has classified them as “Least Concern” on their IUCN Red List.

4. What do purple finches symbolize?

Purple finches are often associated with cheerfulness, wealth, and domesticity. The symbolism of these birds can vary depending on the context and culture, but traditional wisdom often links finches with premonition and rainfall. They are considered omens of good things to come.

5. Are purple finches actually purple?

No, purple finches are not actually purple. The purple in their name comes from their scientific name, Haemorhous purpureus, where purpureus is the Latin word for the color purple. In reality, they have pink and red feathers.

What Is the State Bird of New Hampshire? - Purple Finches


Knowing that the purple finch is the state bird of New Hampshire, it is essential to recognize these birds and appreciate their unique characteristics. Whether you’re a birdwatcher or someone who enjoys nature photography, New Hampshire’s state bird offers an opportunity to observe and appreciate the beauty of avian species. Hopefully, this article has provided you with valuable information about the purple finch and its significance to New Hampshire.

What Is the State Bird of New Hampshire? - Purple Finches

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