Photo: Jeanette Tasey/Great Backyard Bird Count Participant

Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch

Leucosticte tephrocotis

The most widespread of our three species of rosy-finches, the Gray-crown nests from the islands of western Alaska south to the high mountains of California and northern Montana. Different populations are variable in size and in the amount of gray on the heads of the males.
Conservation status Fairly widespread and common, numbers probably stable. Most of its breeding range is remote from impacts of human disturbance.
Family Finches
Habitat Barren tundra, alpine snowfields, rocky islands (off Alaska); winters in open country. Breeds in barren rocky tundra of high mountains and of Alaskan islands; mountain birds often are associated with snowfields. Winters in similar habitats, also in mountain valleys, open plains, towns.
The most widespread of our three species of rosy-finches, the Gray-crown nests from the islands of western Alaska south to the high mountains of California and northern Montana. Different populations are variable in size and in the amount of gray on the heads of the males.
Photo Gallery
  • adult male
  • adult female
  • immature male (1st summer)
  • adult male
Feeding Behavior

Forages mostly on ground or on snow. Sometimes flies up to catch insects in mid-air.


Eggs

4-5, sometimes 3-6. May tend to lay more eggs in some Alaskan populations. Eggs white, rarely with a few reddish brown dots. Incubation is by female only, probably about 14 days. Young: Both parents feed the nestlings. Young probably leave the nest about 14-15 days after hatching, but this may vary among populations. 1 brood per year in mountains, often 2 among Alaskan island birds.


Young

Both parents feed the nestlings. Young probably leave the nest about 14-15 days after hatching, but this may vary among populations. 1 brood per year in mountains, often 2 among Alaskan island birds.

Diet

Mostly seeds and insects. Feeds mainly on seeds of grasses and weeds, especially in winter, when these may make up virtually entire diet. Also eats some buds and leaves, and eats many insects in summer. Young are fed mostly insects. Will eat salt.


Nesting

One courtship display may involve male facing female, half-spreading and lowering his wings, and then raising and lowering them slowly. Nest: Typically placed in a niche among boulders, under a rock, or in a crevice in a cliff, sometimes in a hole in a building. Nest (built by female) is a rather bulky cup of grass, rootlets, lichens, moss, lined with fine grass and sometimes with feathers and animal hair.

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

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

Migration

Those on the Aleutian and Pribilof islands in Alaska are permanent residents. Mountain populations farther south may move to lower elevations in winter; sometimes stray eastward, well out onto plains.

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Migration

Those on the Aleutian and Pribilof islands in Alaska are permanent residents. Mountain populations farther south may move to lower elevations in winter; sometimes stray eastward, well out onto plains.

  • All Seasons - Common
  • All Seasons - Uncommon
  • Breeding - Common
  • Breeding - Uncommon
  • Winter - Common
  • Winter - Uncommon
  • Migration - Common
  • Migration - Uncommon
Songs and Calls
Flying flocks give harsh cheep, cheep notes.
Audio © Lang Elliott, Bob McGuire, Kevin Colver, Martyn Stewart and others.
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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

Gray-crowned 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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