Most Common Purple Birds in Pennsylvania

As a passionate birdwatcher with years of experience, I have been mesmerized by the purple birds that grace the skies of Pennsylvania. My experience has led me to appreciate the diverse range of these majestic creatures, from the dazzling European Starling to the charming Purple Finch.

I believe that these birds not only add a splash of color to Pennsylvania’s avian landscape but also play a crucial role in the state’s ecosystem. Observing these common purple birds in their natural habitat has been a truly enriching experience, reminding me of the beauty and significance of our feathered friends.

Key Takeaways

  • European Starlings and Purple Martins are easily recognizable purple birds in Pennsylvania.
  • Rock Pigeons adapt well to urban settings and play a significant role in the ecosystem.
  • Purple Finches and Little Blue Herons exhibit unique characteristics in their habitat and behavior.
  • Common Grackles stand out with iridescent purple heads and yellow eyes, foraging in wet woodlands.

European Starling

European Starlings in Pennsylvania display a distinctive shiny, green-purple plumage that sets them apart from other bird species in the region. These common purple birds, introduced as an invasive species in 1890, have a glossy appearance that distinguishes them.

Breeding adults exhibit a darker black color with a glossy sheen, while in winter, their plumage loses its glossiness, and white spots appear. The green-purple tint of their feathers is a key identifying feature. European Starlings are easily recognizable due to their unique coloration and can often be spotted throughout Pennsylvania.

Their striking appearance, especially in breeding adults, makes them stand out among the avian species in the state.

Rock Pigeon

Rock Pigeons, commonly found in urban areas of Pennsylvania, exhibit distinctive gray backs, blue-grey heads, and black wing bars. When observing these birds, you may notice:

  1. The purple iridescence shimmering around their necks, creating a striking contrast against their predominantly gray plumage.
  2. Their adeptness at adapting to urban environments, where they scavenge for food and roost on buildings and bridges.
  3. The potential for them to become a nuisance in large numbers due to their prolific breeding and feeding habits.

Despite being considered bothersome by some, Rock Pigeons play a significant role in the ecosystem and have a long-standing history of coexisting with humans.

Purple Finch

Male Purple Finches are easily distinguished by their raspberry-purple head, breast, and back coloring. These distinctive birds possess specialized tongues for extracting seeds, particularly favoring black-oil sunflower seeds.

Female Purple Finches showcase a blend of white and brown streaks with unique facial markings. Their beaks are adept at crushing seeds, aiding in their feeding habits.

Found predominantly in coniferous forests, Purple Finches are known for their charming purple plumage, adding a pop of color to their surroundings. Keep an eye out for these small, but striking birds, as their vibrant appearance and feeding behaviors make them stand out amongst the foliage.

Purple Martin

With their broad-chested build and iridescent blue and purple plumage, Purple Martins are striking swallows known for their nesting preferences in open locations away from trees or buildings.

Here are some key points about Purple Martins:

  1. Male Plumage: Adult male Purple Martins boast dark plumage that shimmers with purple and blue hues, especially in the sunlight.
  2. Female Plumage: In contrast, females exhibit a more subdued gray plumage, lacking the vibrant colors seen in males.
  3. Breeding Colonies: Purple Martins breed in colonies, relying on artificial nest boxes in open locations throughout Pennsylvania for their nesting sites.

These distinctive features and nesting habits make Purple Martins a fascinating species to observe in the state.

Little Blue Heron

Little Blue Herons, characterized by their slate-gray bodies and distinctive purple-maroon head and neck coloring, are commonly sighted in shallow wetlands across southeastern Pennsylvania. These herons exhibit a striking appearance, especially the juveniles, which are entirely white in their first year as part of their camouflage strategy.

Their dagger-like bills are essential tools for capturing prey in the form of fish and other aquatic creatures with precision. In the wetlands of southeastern Pennsylvania, Little Blue Herons can be observed patiently stalking their meals.

The white plumage of the juveniles helps them blend in with other white wading birds, providing them with a level of protection from potential predators in their natural habitat.

Common Grackle

In southeastern Pennsylvania, transitioning from the elegant Little Blue Heron to the striking Common Grackle reveals a shift in habitat preference and feeding behavior among the avian species.

Common Grackles, medium-sized blackbirds, exhibit iridescent purple heads and striking yellow eyes, complemented by their long keel-shaped tails. Observing them foraging in flocks creates a spectacle in the wet woodlands, where their opportunistic feeding behaviors shine.

Their distinctive ‘grackle’ calls resonate through the air, marking their presence in adaptable habitats ranging from fields to urban areas. Common Grackles’ ability to thrive in diverse environments showcases their resilience and adaptability, making them a common sight in Pennsylvania’s avian landscape.

Brown Headed Cowbird

The Brown Headed Cowbird, a small avian species distinguished by its light brown head and blue body, is commonly sighted in open grasslands and urban areas across Pennsylvania. These birds have a diet that includes insects and seeds. With a wingspan ranging from 32 to 38cm, they weigh approximately 38 to 45 grams. Brown Headed Cowbirds can live for around 17 years in the wild. Below is a table summarizing key characteristics of the Brown Headed Cowbird:

ColorationLight brown head, blue body
HabitatOpen grasslands, urban areas
DietInsects, seeds

Commonly Seen Purple Birds

Among the various avian species inhabiting Pennsylvania, several purple birds stand out for their striking coloration and distinctive characteristics. These commonly seen purple birds contribute to the diversity and color of Pennsylvania’s bird population:

  1. European Starlings: These birds are ubiquitous in Pennsylvania and are known for their iridescent purple and green plumage.
  2. Purple Finch: Often spotted in wooded areas across the state, the Purple Finch displays a beautiful mix of purple, red, and brown feathers.
  3. Purple Martins: These aerial acrobats grace the skies of Pennsylvania, especially near human habitation where they nest in artificial nest boxes, showcasing their glossy purple-black plumage.

Observing these purple birds, like the European Starlings, Purple Finch, and Purple Martins, adds vibrancy and charm to the birdwatching experience in Pennsylvania.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Purple Martins in Pennsylvania?

Yes, purple martins are in Pennsylvania. They showcase dark plumage in males and gray in females. These swallows form colonies, excel in flight, and rely on artificial nests. Conservation is vital due to competition for nesting spots.

Are There Purple Finches in Pennsylvania?

Yes, Purple Finches can be found in Pennsylvania. They nest in the northern tier and higher elevations in the south. Males sport a raspberry-purple hue, while females display white and brown streaks with distinct facial markings.

Which Bird Is Purple?

The Purple Finch boasts a stunning raspberry-purple hue on its head, breast, and back. Look closely at this bird to appreciate its vibrant coloration, making it a standout member of Pennsylvania’s avian population.

Are Purple Birds Rare?

Purple birds are not rare in Pennsylvania. They can be easily spotted in various habitats. While some, like the Purple Martin and Little Blue Heron, may require more effort to find due to habitat preferences, overall, purple birds contribute to the state’s avian diversity.


You have now explored the most common purple birds in Pennsylvania, including the European Starling, Rock Pigeon, Purple Finch, Purple Martin, and Little Blue Heron.

These birds showcase a variety of purple hues in their plumage, adding beauty and diversity to the state’s avian population.

By observing and appreciating these colorful creatures, we can better understand the importance of conservation efforts to protect their habitats and ensure their continued presence in Pennsylvania’s ecosystem.