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They are House Finches. Purple Finches do not breed in the St. Louis area and are only occasionally seen in the winter. Your description of brown streaks on the side describes the House Finch - there is a clear distinction between the red on the breast and the brown streaks. In the male Purple Finch, the streaks are the same color as the breast color.

Yvonne Homeyer
St. Louis
  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: Patrick Maloney 
  To: [log in to unmask] 
  Sent: Monday, August 10, 2009 5:23 PM
  Subject: RFI STL area finches


        Sorry to bother the entire list, but can some one help me with a problem?  I have numerous finches at my feeder in the south part of the City that I believe are house finches.  My brother lives just a few blocks away and thinks his are purple finches.  The males I see are heavily streaked, darkish brown stripes on the sides, but do seem to show more red in the rump area than is shown in Sibley's.  Are both Purple and House finches prefvalent in South St. Louis?  Is one more likely?  Sorry for the naievete of the question, but we are trying to learn and I thought one of the "experts" out there might be able to help.  Cheers!
        Pat Maloney 

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The Audubon Society of Missouri's Wild Bird Discussion Forum
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