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Cassin's Finch
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Fringillidae
Genus: Carpodacus
Species: C. cassinii
Binomial name
Carpodacus cassinii
Baird, 1854
blue: breeding; green: year-round; yellow: wintering

Burrica cassinii

Cassin's Finch (Carpodacus cassinii) is a bird in the finch family Fringillidae. This species and the other "American rosefinches" are usually placed in the rosefinch genus Carpodacus, but they likely belong in a distinct genus Burrica.

Adults have a short forked brown tail and brown wings. They have a longer bill than the Purple Finch. Adult males are raspberry red on the head, breast, back and rump; their back and undertail are streaked. Adult females have light brown upperparts and light underparts with brown streaks throughout; their facial markings are less distinct than those of the female Purple Finch.

Their breeding habitat is coniferous forest in mountains of western North America as far south as northern New Mexico and Arizona; also Southern California near Baja California. They nest in a large conifer. They move to lower elevations in winter.

Birds from Canada migrate south; other birds are permanent residents; non-breeding resident birds winter as far south as central interior Mexico, the Mexican Plateau. Besides the 'breeding-residency' locale of southwest Canada, two disjunct breeding areas occur: the coastal mountains of extreme northern California and the Black Hills of South Dakota.

These birds forage in trees, sometimes in ground vegetation. They mainly eat seeds, buds and berries, some insects. When not nesting, they often feed in small flocks.

This bird was named after John Cassin, who was a curator at the Philadelphia Academy of Natural Sciences.



Further reading



  • Hahn, T. P. 1996. Cassin’s Finch (Carpodacus cassinii). In The Birds of North America, No. 240 (A. Poole and F. Gill, eds.). The Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia, PA, and The American Ornithologists’ Union, Washington, D.C.


  • Clemens DT. Ph.D. (1988). Studies on respiration, blood physiology and energy metabolism in rosy finches and house finches at sea level and high altitudes. University of California, Los Angeles, United States -- California.
  • Keller ME. Ph.D. (1987). THE EFFECT OF FOREST FRAGMENTATION ON BIRDS IN SPRUCE-FIR OLD-GROWTH FORESTS (WYOMING). University of Wyoming, United States -- Wyoming.
  • Samson FB. Ph.D. (1975). SOCIAL ORGANIZATION OF THE CASSIN'S FINCH IN NORTHERN UTAH. Utah State University, United States -- Utah.


  • Arnaiz-Villena, A., Moscoso, J., Ruiz-del-Valle, V., Gonzalez, J., Reguera, R., Wink, M., I. Serrano-Vela, J. 2007. Bayesian phylogeny of Fringillinae birds: status of the singular African oriole finch Linurgus olivaceus and evolution and heterogeneity of the genus Carpodacus. Acta Zoologica Sinica, 53 (5):826 - 834. PDF fulltext
  • Balph DF & Balph MH. (1979). Behavioral Flexibility of Pine Siskins in Mixed Species Foraging Groups. Condor. vol 81, no 2. p. 211-212.
  • Bennetts RE & Hutto RL. (1985). Attraction of Social Fringillids to Mineral Salts an Experimental Study. Journal of Field Ornithology. vol 56, no 2. p. 187-189.
  • Bulluck L, Fleishman E, Betrus C & Blair R. (2006). Spatial and temporal variations in species occurrence rate affect the accuracy of occurrence models. Global Ecology & Biogeography. vol 15, no 1. p. 27-38.
  • Clemens DT. (1988). Blood Physiology of Cardueline Finches at Low and High Altitude. American Zoologist. vol 28, no 4.
  • Clemens DT. (1990). Interspecific Variation and Effects of Altitude on Blood Properties of Rosy Finches Leucosticte-Arctoa and House Finches Carpodacus-Mexicanus. Physiological Zoology. vol 63, no 2. p. 288-307.
  • Deweese LR, Henny CJ, Floyd RL, Bobal KA & Shultz AW. (1979). Response of Breeding Birds to Aerial Sprays of Trichlorfon Dylox and Carbaryl Sevin-4-Oil in Montana USA Forests. U S Fish & Wildlife Service Special Scientific Report Wildlife. vol 224, p. 1-29.
  • Ernest EL, Thomas ED & Kathy M. (2004). Resistance of forest songbirds to habitat perforation in a high-elevation conifer forest. Canadian Journal of Forest Research. vol 34, no 9. p. 1919.
  • Gadd S. (1974). Skin Lesions and Other Defects in House Finches. Colorado Field Ornithologist. vol 19, p. 9-10.
  • Grant BR & Grant PR. (2002). Simulating secondary contact in allopatric speciation: An empirical test of premating isolation. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society. vol 76, no 4. p. 545-556.
  • Herman SG. (1971). The Functional and Numerical Responses of the Cassin Finch Carpodacus-Cassinii to Epidemic Numbers of the Lodgepole Needle Miner Coleotechnites-Milleri. Wasmann Journal of Biology. vol 29, no 1. p. 71-80.
  • Karubian J & Swaddle JP. (2001). Selection on females can create 'larger males'. Proceedings of the Royal Society Biological Sciences Series B. vol 268, no 1468. p. 725-728.
  • Kaufman K. (1986). The Practiced Eye Cassin's Finch Versus Purple Finch. American Birds. vol 40, no 5. p. 1124-1127.
  • Langelier LA & Garton EO. (1986). Management Guidelines for Increasing Populations of Birds That Feed on Western Spruce Budworm. U S Department of Agriculture Agriculture Handbook. vol 653, p. 1-19.
  • MacDougall-Shackleton EA, MacDougall-Shackleton SA & Hahn TP. (1999). Effects of juvenile and adult experience on song preferences of female mountain white-crowned sparrows. American Zoologist. vol 39, no 5.
  • MacDougall-Shackleton SA, Ball GF, Edmonds E, Sul R & Hahn TP. (2005). Age- and sex-related variation in song-control regions in Cassin's finches, Carpodacus cassinii. Brain Behavior & Evolution. vol 65, no 4. p. 262-267.
  • MacDougall-Shackleton SA, Edmonds E, Ball GF & Hahn TP. (2000). Age and sex differences in the song-control system of a songbird with delayed plumage maturation. Society for Neuroscience Abstracts. vol 26, no 1-2.
  • MacDougall-Shackleton SA & Hahn TP. (1999). Photorefractoriness and the evolution of reproductive flexibility in cardueline finches. American Zoologist. vol 39, no 5.
  • MacDougall-Shackleton SA, Katti M & Hahn TP. (2006). Tests of absolute photorefractoriness in four species of cardueline finch that differ in reproductive schedule. Journal of Experimental Biology. vol 209, no 19. p. 3786-3794.
  • McNair DB & Dean JP. (2003). Distributional information on birds from egg sets collected by Henry Rogers Durkee in 1870 in southwestern Wyoming. Western North American Naturalist. vol 63, no 3. p. 320-332.
  • Medin DE. (1984). Breeding Birds of an Ancient Bristlecone Pine Pinus-Longavo Stand in East Central Nevada USA. Great Basin Naturalist. vol 44, no 2. p. 272-276.
  • Mewaldt LR & King JR. (1985). Breeding Site Faithfulness Reproductive Biology and Adult Survivorship in an Isolated Population of Cassin's Finches Carpodacus-Cassinii. Condor. vol 87, no 4. p. 494-510.
  • Morrison ML, Hall LS, Keane JJ, Kuenzi AJ & Verner J. (1993). Distribution and abundance of birds in the White Mountains, California. Great Basin Naturalist. vol 53, no 3. p. 246-258.
  • Pavlacky DC, Jr. & Anderson SH. (2004). Comparative habitat use in a juniper woodland bird community. Western North American Naturalist. vol 64, no 3. p. 376-384.
  • Pereyra ME, MacDougall-Shackleton SA, Sharbaugh SM, Morton ML, Katti M & Hahn TP. (2001). Relationships between photorefrac-toriness and reproductive flexibility in cardueline finches. American Zoologist. vol 41, no 6.
  • Pulich WM. (1971). Some Fringillid Records for Texas. Condor. vol 73, no 1.
  • Samson FB. (1976). Pterylosis and Molt in Cassins Finch. Condor. vol 78, no 4. p. 505-511.
  • Samson FB. (1976). Territory Breeding Density and Fall Departure in Cassins Finch. Auk. vol 93, no 3. p. 477-497.
  • Samson FB. (1978). Vocalizations of Cassins Finch in Northern Utah USA. Condor. vol 80, no 2. p. 203-210.
  • Sewall KB & Hahn TP. (2003). Differential heterospecific mimicry in three species of Cardueline finches. SICB Annual Meeting & Exhibition Final Program & Abstracts. vol 300.
  • Sockman KW, Sewall KB, Ball GF & Hahn TP. (2005). Economy of mate attraction in the Cassin's finch. Biology Letters. vol 1, no 1. p. 34-37.
  • Sullivan SL, Pyle WH & Herman SG. (1986). Cassin's Finch Carpodacus-Cassinii Nesting in Big Sagebrush. Condor. vol 88, no 3. p. 378-379.
  • Svingen D & Martin RE. (2005). Second report of the North Dakota bird records committee: 2002-2003. Prairie Naturalist. vol 37, no 4. p. 205-223.
  • Svingen D & Rogers TH. (1994). Winter Season: Idaho/Western Montana Region. National Audubon Society Field Notes. vol 48, no 3. p. 320-322.
  • Tomback GF. (1975). An Emetic Technique to Investigate Food Preferences. Auk. vol 92, no 3. p. 581-583.
  • Wang ZS, Baker AJ, Hill GE & Edwards SV. (2003). Reconciling actual and inferred population histories in the house finch (Carpodacus mexicanus) by AFLP analysis. Evolution. vol 57, no 12. p. 2852-2864.
  • Weathers WW. (1981). Physiological Thermo Regulation in Heat Stressed Birds Consequences of Body Size. Physiological Zoology. vol 54, no 3. p. 345-361.
  • Weathers WW, Shapiro CJ & Astheimer LB. (1980). Metabolic Responses of Cassins Finches Carpodacus-Cassinii to Temperature. Comparative Biochemistry & Physiology A. vol 65, no 2. p. 235-238.
  • West GC & Bailey EP. (1986). Rustic Bunting Purple Finch and Cassin's Finch in South Coastal Alaska USA. Murrelet. vol 67, no 1.
  • Zinkl JG, Henny CJ, Lenhart DJ & Roberts RB. (1980). Inhibition of Brain Cholin Esterase Activity in Forest Birds and Squirrels Exposed to Aerially Applied Acephate. Bulletin of Environmental Contamination & Toxicology. vol 24, no 5. p. 676-683.


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