Bird GuideFinchesBlack Rosy-Finch

At a Glance

High mountains of the northern Great Basin region, from northeastern Nevada to southwestern Montana, are the stronghold of this uncommon bird. Black Rosy-Finches spend the summer around the snowfields and barren tundra of the rocky crags, where few birders venture. In winter, however, flocks come down into the high valleys. The striking males, their black plumage contrasting with touches of pale rose, make a beautiful spectacle against the snow.
Finches, Perching Birds
Desert and Arid Habitats, High Mountains
Northwest, Rocky Mountains, Southwest
Flitter, Rapid Wingbeats, Undulating

Range & Identification

Migration & Range Maps

Most apparently move downhill in late fall, with flocks appearing in high valleys and plateaus in winter, including areas some distance to south of breeding range.


5 1/2-6 1/2" (14-17 cm). Male shows striking contrast between black body plumage and gray nape band, rosy belly and wing patches. Female much plainer, may be darker than other species. All rosy-finches have black bill in summer, yellow in winter.
About the size of a Robin, About the size of a Sparrow
Black, Brown, Gray, Pink, Red
Wing Shape
Tail Shape
Notched, Square-tipped

Songs and Calls

A variety of low cheep notes are used in various situations: as a contact call in flight and in proclaiming an occupied nesting territory.
Call Pattern
Falling, Flat
Call Type
Chatter, Chirp/Chip, Hi


Rocky summits, alpine snowfields and tundra; winters in open country at lower levels. Breeds on barren tundra of mountain peaks, mostly in rocky areas and often near persistent snowfields. Winters in open country of mountains and nearby valleys, often coming into towns.



4-5, sometimes 3. White, unmarked. Incubation is by female only, about 12-14 days.


Both parents feed the nestlings, although the female may do most of it at first. Young probably leave the nest about 20 days after hatching, are fed by their parents for at least another 2 weeks. 1 brood per year.


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


Males apparently outnumber females, and during the breeding season a male who has a mate usually attends her closely to keep rival males away. Nest: Located in a well-protected site in a crevice or hole in a cliff, usually in an inaccessible place; sometimes in a niche among boulders of a rockslide. Nest (built by female) is a bulky open cup of grass and moss, lined with fine grass, animal hair, and sometimes feathers.

Climate Vulnerability

Conservation Status

Rather uncommon and local. Numbers probably stable at the moment, but its mountaintop habitats are especially vulnerable to the effects of climate change.

Climate Map

Audubon’s scientists have used 140 million bird observations and sophisticated climate models to project how climate change will affect the range of the Black Rosy-Finch. Learn even more in our Audubon’s Survival By Degrees project.

Climate Threats Facing the Black Rosy-Finch

Choose a temperature scenario below to see which threats will affect this species as warming increases. The same climate change-driven threats that put birds at risk will affect other wildlife and people, too.