Date: 3/22/18 7:48 am
From: Diane C Louie <dclouie...>
Subject: [JERSEYBI] Why are Purple Finches called "purple"?
After some research, I am thinking the first use of “Purple Finch” is by Catesby.

Elliott Coues says that Catesby applied a misnomer. Later, Trotter is more critical.

Elliott Comes:

https://books.google.com/books?id=p0QhAQAAMAAJ&pg=PA385&lpg=PA385&dq=catesby%27s+first+illustration+of+purple+finch&source=bl&ots=bM0PB8ojd7&sig=hKsbDDxqUAaFrWF8KE8hAexJZNk&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiqtPGaiYDaAhVSiqwKHZ6bDBgQ6AEIPzAH#v=onepage&q=catesby's%20first%20illustration%20of%20purple%20finch&f=false <https://books.google.com/books?id=p0QhAQAAMAAJ&pg=PA385&lpg=PA385&dq=catesby%27s+first+illustration+of+purple+finch&source=bl&ots=bM0PB8ojd7&sig=hKsbDDxqUAaFrWF8KE8hAexJZNk&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiqtPGaiYDaAhVSiqwKHZ6bDBgQ6AEIPzAH#v=onepage&q=catesby's first illustration of purple finch&f=false>

Trotter:

> https://sora.unm.edu/sites/default/files/journals/auk/v026n04/p0346-p0363.pdf <https://sora.unm.edu/sites/default/files/journals/auk/v026n04/p0346-p0363.pdf>

And, in the 3rd edition of Catesby’s engravings (published after his death), the description of the bird accompanying the corresponding illustration clearly uses
the word “purple”:

http://dc.lib.unc.edu/cdm/compoundobject/collection/dmisc/id/1658/show/1539 <http://dc.lib.unc.edu/cdm/compoundobject/collection/dmisc/id/1658/show/1539>

Some (handpainted) prints I have seen online of Catesby’s Purple Finch engraving seem purple and others crimson.
Are the crimson ones correcting an error?

Catesby preceded Linnaeus. Does the Linnaean species name bring forward Catesby’s common name?

But, interestingly, Choate in his Dictionary of American Bird Names, says that “purpureus” comes from

' L. “crimson” or other reddish color….In ancient times wearing crimson signified royal rank.
So in the classical sense of the word, the name of the color
is correct for the bird’s plumage.'


Diane Louie, Madison


On Mar 21, 2018, at 4:52 PM, B.G. Sloan <bgsloan3...> <mailto:<bgsloan3...>> wrote:

Something I've always been curious about. Why are Purple Finches
called "purple" when they are not purple? (I believe the Spanish
common name for Purple Finch translates into "Red Finch")...

I thought I remembered reading something about "purple" being a
different shade back in the day when the bird got its name? Or I could
just be imagining that. :-)

Bernie Sloan
Highland Park


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