Photo: Geoff Malosh/Vireo

Brown-capped Rosy-Finch

Leucosticte australis

Rosy-finches in general are birds of the Arctic and alpine zones, but this one inhabits the high peaks of the Rockies from Wyoming south to New Mexico. Even where highways take the observer to areas above treeline, this species can be elusive in summer, seeming to favor the most remote and barren cliffs and isolated snowfields. In winter, when the birds move to lower elevations, they are often much easier to find, even coming to feeders in valley towns.
Conservation status Uncommon and local. Its isolated mountaintop habitats are likely to be especially vulnerable to the effects of climate change.
Family Finches
Habitat Very much like that of Black Rosy-Finch.
Rosy-finches in general are birds of the Arctic and alpine zones, but this one inhabits the high peaks of the Rockies from Wyoming south to New Mexico. Even where highways take the observer to areas above treeline, this species can be elusive in summer, seeming to favor the most remote and barren cliffs and isolated snowfields. In winter, when the birds move to lower elevations, they are often much easier to find, even coming to feeders in valley towns.
Photo Gallery
  • adult male, breeding
  • adult female, nonbreeding
  • immature
  • adult female, nonbreeding

Eggs

3-5. White, unmarked. Incubation is by female only, about 12-14 days. Young: Both parents feed the nestlings. Young leave the nest about 18 days after hatching, and may remain with parents through end of summer and into the fall. 1 brood per year.


Young

Both parents feed the nestlings. Young leave the nest about 18 days after hatching, and may remain with parents through end of summer and into the fall. 1 brood per year.

Diet

FEEDING. Diet and feeding behavior are very similar to those of Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch


Nesting

At high elevations where this bird nests, snow may cover nesting sites until late June in some years. Birds may be already paired when they arrive at breeding areas. Nest site is in a crevice or hole in a cliff, sometimes a very narrow crevice where the nest is quite inaccessible; sometimes under a rock, in mine shaft, or in abandoned building. Nest (built by female) is a bulky cup of moss, grass, weeds, rootlets, lined with fine grass and sometimes with feathers or animal fur.

Illustration © David Allen Sibley.
Learn more about these drawings.

Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds

Migration

Moves to lower elevations in autumn and winter, tending to move farther downhill in winters of heavier snowfall. Migration is all altitudinal, does not seem to move south of breeding range.

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Migration

Moves to lower elevations in autumn and winter, tending to move farther downhill in winters of heavier snowfall. Migration is all altitudinal, does not seem to move south of breeding range.

  • All Seasons - Common
  • All Seasons - Uncommon
  • Breeding - Common
  • Breeding - Uncommon
  • Winter - Common
  • Winter - Uncommon
  • Migration - Common
  • Migration - Uncommon
Songs and Calls
A series of low cheep notes are uttered to maintain contact in the flock. In the mating season the male gives a similar song during a long, circular, undulating flight.
Audio © Lang Elliott, Bob McGuire, Kevin Colver, Martyn Stewart and others.
Learn more about this sound collection.

How climate change could affect this bird's range

In the broadest and most detailed study of its kind, Audubon scientists have used hundreds of thousands of citizen-science observations and sophisticated climate models to predict how birds in the U.S. and Canada will react to climate change.

Learn more

Read more: climate.audubon.org
Finches Perching Birds

Brown-capped Rosy-Finch

The darker the color, the more favorable the climate conditions are for survival. The outlined areas represent approximate current range for each season.

More on reading these maps.

Each map is a visual guide to where a particular bird species may find the climate conditions it needs to survive in the future. We call this the bird’s “climatic range.”

The colors indicate the season in which the bird may find suitable conditions— blue for winter, yellow for summer (breeding), and green for where they overlap (indicating their presence year-round).

The darker the shaded area, the more likely it is the bird species will find suitable climate conditions to survive there.

The outline of the approximate current range for each season remains fixed in each frame, allowing you to compare how the range will expand, contract, or shift in the future.

The first frame of the animation shows where the bird can find a suitable climate today (based on data from 2000). The next three frames predict where this bird’s suitable climate may shift in the future—one frame each for 2020, 2050, and 2080.

You can play or pause the animation with the orange button in the lower left, or select an individual frame to study by clicking on its year.

The darker the color, the more favorable the climate conditions are for survival. The outlined areas represent approximate current range for each season. More on reading these maps.
Winter
Summer

Winter Range
Summer Range
Both Seasons
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