Purple Finch with white head

schoolhouse_gwMarch 14, 2010

A finch came to my feeder awhile ago, all the feathers on his head were white; I couldn't get my camera in time. Is this a different finch or just a fluke?

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Interesting wish someone would answer this

    Bookmark   March 16, 2010 at 10:25PM
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People have reported albino variants of some birds (most recently juncos) but I've never seen one. It's possible this is what you saw, but I'm guessing. Perhaps it will return when you've got your camera? I'd like to know the answer as well, since I've never seen this. Lucky you!


    Bookmark   March 17, 2010 at 2:09AM
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We have been seeing a white-headed bird at our feeder the past few days - it comes and goes with a group of finches so I am pretty sure it is a purple finch (or house finch). It is pretty striking - just its head is white and the rest of its body has the markings and coloration of a finch with no purple to it.
I will try to get a picture - but they are fast!

    Bookmark   April 3, 2014 at 10:47AM
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Wow.........I'll have to be on the look-out for one of those. It must have been a "What the heck is that?" moment!

    Bookmark   April 3, 2014 at 10:55AM
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I wonder if it might be an escaped White-headed Nun finch? Was the head pure white or was it mottled? What were the body markings like?

If there is mottling or a piebald/pied effect it might be partially leucistic.

This is a link to a picture of what I think is probably a partially leucistic house finch - see the mottling and some traces of the normal red coloring


The nun finch (white-headed munia) is a caged bird. Escaped birds apparently easily hybridize with other finches. There are many subspecies of nun finches - they range from white heads just from the neck up to well down onto the shoulders, from a reddish brown body color with the tail the same color to a deeper red, or a more grayish brown body and tail. It would be hard to guestimate what a hybrid might look like. I don't know how well an escaped White Headed Munia (nun) finch would overwinter, but a hybrid would probably handle that better.

If you can get a picture - several actually - that would answer a lot of questions. An escaped or hybrid version of a white headed nun finch seems unlikely - but so does a leukistic bird, LOL!

This is a white-headed nun finch:

Here is a link that might be useful: Google image search for white headed finches

    Bookmark   April 11, 2014 at 10:15PM
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Thanks for the info - after looking at the pictures at the links you sent, I am pretty sure it was a leucistic house finch. The markings were just like that, except that I didn't see any purple at all. It hasn't been back since I put my camera out near the window, but I will keep watching!

    Bookmark   April 11, 2014 at 10:41PM
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