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What Is the State Bird of New Hampshire?

The state bird of New Hampshire is the Purple Finch, a vibrant symbol of natural beauty and resilience. Admired for its melodious song and striking plumage, this bird captures the essence of New Hampshire's wild spirit. Discover how the Purple Finch reflects the state's identity and why it was chosen—what does it reveal about the Granite State's character? Continue exploring with us.
Sonal Panse
Sonal Panse

State symbols and state animals are selected to represent the cultural heritage and natural bounty of a particular state. In the case of New Hampshire, the purple finch has been its state bird since the legislation was passed in its favor on 25 April 1957. The proposal for the purple finch as the state bird of New Hampshire was put forward on 12 February 1957 by Representative Robert S. Monahan of Hanover. He was opposed in this by Representative Doris M. Smollett of Hapstead, who proposed that the New Hampshire hen be selected instead.

The proposal for the purple finch, however, was supported by the Audubon Society of New Hampshire, the New Hampshire Federation of Garden Clubs and the State Federation of Women's Clubs. The latter had already selected the purple finch as their state symbol back in 1927. After receiving approval from the New Hampshire General Assembly, Governor Lane Dwinell signed the bill into legislation on 25 April 1957 and the purple finch became the state bird of New Hampshire.

A map of the US.
A map of the US.

In appearance, the purple finch is a small bird with a largish head and a short pointed beak. The male finches show a distinctive rose color on the head, breast and wing bars, and a dark red, mixed with brown streaks, on the nape and back. Female finches are pale brown, gray and white, with well-defined color streaks. Both genders have a white belly, brown wings, white under-tail coverts and a brown notched tail, and make a warbling "pik" sound.

The state bird of New Hampshire is migratory in nature. In the summer, purple finches are mainly found in the southern parts of Canada, and in the winter they migrate to the eastern regions of the United States. Some purple finches also live year-round in the northeastern regions of the United States.

The birds nest in coniferous and deciduous forests, and are known to reside in shrubs, weeds and hedgerows. They breed in the summer. The female purple finches build the nest, taking about eight days to complete it, and then lay four to seven greenish-blue eggs with brown or black flecks. The female bird incubates the eggs for around 13 days, and both parents are involved in feeding and raising the chicks. The chicks develop feathers about 16 days after they have hatched.

The purple finch feeds on fruits, flowers, seeds and insects. Given its predilection for fruits and flowers and the destruction it consequently causes, the state bird of New Hampshire is regarded as a pest by farmers. It is not an endangered bird, but its range is being threatened by urban development and by the introduction of other finches and sparrows.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the state bird of New Hampshire?

The state bird of New Hampshire is the Purple Finch (Haemorhous purpureus). It was officially designated as the state bird in 1957. The Purple Finch is known for its vibrant raspberry red plumage on the males, which is especially prominent during the breeding season, while females and young birds are more subdued with a brownish or grayish color.

When was the Purple Finch designated as New Hampshire's state bird?

The Purple Finch was designated as the state bird of New Hampshire on April 25, 1957. This decision was made by the state legislature, recognizing the bird's prevalence and popularity within the state, as well as its distinctive and attractive coloring.

Where can you typically find the Purple Finch in New Hampshire?

The Purple Finch can be found throughout New Hampshire, particularly in coniferous and mixed forests. They are also common visitors to bird feeders in residential areas. During the breeding season, they are more likely to be seen in the northern parts of the state, while in winter, they may be found across New Hampshire as they search for food.

What are some distinguishing characteristics of the Purple Finch?

The male Purple Finch is notable for its vibrant red plumage, which covers its head, throat, chest, and rump. Females and immature birds are more muted with a whitish underside and brown streaks. Both sexes have a notched tail and a relatively large, conical beak that is well-suited for cracking seeds, which is their primary food source.

How does the Purple Finch differ from the similar-looking House Finch?

The Purple Finch and the House Finch can be easily confused due to their similar size and coloration. However, the Purple Finch typically has a more intense red coloration, with the red extending to the back and flanks, whereas the House Finch has more of an orange hue and the red is limited to the head and chest. Additionally, the Purple Finch has a more pronounced facial pattern with a well-defined white eyebrow and darker cheek patch.

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      By: HL
      A map of the US.