Identification of female Cassins’s and Purple Finches

by Alvaro Jaramillo and David Beadle

The genus Carpodacus which includes the Purple, Cassin’s and House finches of North America and many Asian species, consists of sexually dimorphic birds with males showing obvious red on the plumage while the females are duller, brown and streaked. This article deals largely with the separation of Purple Finch C.purpureus and Cassin’s Finch C.cassinii in this duller streaked plumage. House Finch C.mexicanus will be dealt with at a lesser level of detail as it is not nearly as difficult an identification problem. Purple and Cassin’s finches are closely related “sister species” while House Finch is genetically quite distant from them (Marten and Johnson 1986).

Identification of Yellow-bellied and “Western” Flycatchers

by Matt Heindel and Peter Pyle

Identifying Empidonax flycatchers has been very difficult for most birders. Indeed, only in the past decade or so has the field identification of this genus become a widespread practice. A series of articles in Birding by Whitney and Kaufman (e.g., 1986), and then Kaufman (1990), helped bring the identification criteria to a larger number of observers. Even with this knowledge, birders should remain conservative in identifying every Empidonax flycatcher they encounter, and should be particularly cautious when claiming one out of range.