New Hampshire State Bird - Purple Finch


Purple Finch

(Carpodacus purpureus)
Adopted on April 25, 1957.

The purple finch is hereby designated as the official state bird of New Hampshire. The pert little purple finch toppled the one-time sturdy New Hampshire hen to become the Granite State's official bird, by vote of the 1957 Legislature.

Rep. Robert S. Monahan of Hanover, then Dartmouth College forester, sponsored a purple finch bill, which was filed in the House of Representatives on February 12, Lincoln's birthday anniversary, with impressive backing. He later testified that it bore the support of the Audubon Society of New Hampshire, the New Hampshire Federation of Garden Clubs, and the State Federation of Women's Clubs.

The purple finch proposal ran into quick opposition. Rep. Doris M. Spollett of Hampstead, veteran legislator and mail carrier and breeder of prize goats, once again sponsored the New Hampshire hen for a state bird. She had lost an initial bid for this special breed of hen, to become the official bird, eight years earlier, while serving in the Senate.

Monahan won speedy approval for the purple finch, as his bill came up for public hearing before the House Committee on Recreation, Resources and Development on March 27, as he urged quick enactment "before some other state beats us to it."

The purple finch readily mustered broad legislative support, because of the respected influence of its sponsoring organizations, and Miss Spollett's hen bill became pigeon-hold. The House Committee on Recreation, Resources and Development held a March 27 public hearing on Monahan's bill, and promptly recommended its passage. The House then passed the purple finch, and the Senate speedily concurred. Governor Lane Dwinell of Lebanon signed the purple finch into law on April 25.

New Hampshire Revised Statutes Annotated (RSA) 3:10
Anderson, Leon. History. Manual for the General Court 1981.

Identification Tips
  • Length: 5.5 inches
  • Large, conical bill
  • Short, forked tail
  • Distinctive call note often given in flight
  • Purplish-red head, breast, back and rump
  • Streaked back
  • White undertail coverts
  • Brown wings and tail
  • Immature male resembles female
  • Brown crown and cheek patch contrasting with pale supercilium and malar streak
  • Heavily streaked underparts
  • Brown upperparts
Kingdom Animalia -- animals
   Phylum Chordata -- chordates
      Subphylum Vertebrata -- vertebrates
         Class Aves -- birds
            Order Passeriformes -- perching birds
               Family Fringillidae -- buntings, finches, grosbeaks, old world finches, sparrows
                  Genus Carpodacus Kaup, 1829 -- purple finches
                     Species Carpodacus purpureus (J. F. Gmelin, 1789) -- Pinzón purpúreo, purple finch