At a Glance
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.
All bird guide text and rangemaps adapted from Lives of North American Birds by Kenn Kaufman© 1996, used by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Finches, Perching Birds
Desert and Arid Habitats, High Mountains
Rocky Mountains, Southwest
Flitter, Rapid Wingbeats, Undulating
Range & Identification
Migration & Range Maps
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.
5 3/4-6 1/2" (15-17 cm). Pink wash on belly, rump, and wings, much less obvious on females. Male Brown-capped Rosy-Finch lacks the gray nape of Black Rosy-Finch and Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch. Note range (Colorado and nearby areas).
About the size of a Robin, About the size of a Sparrow
Black, Brown, Pink, Red
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.
Chatter, Chirp/Chip, Hi
Very much like that of Black Rosy-Finch.
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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.
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.
FEEDING. Diet and feeding behavior are very similar to those of Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch
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.
Uncommon and local. Its isolated mountaintop habitats are likely to be especially vulnerable to the effects of climate change.
Audubon’s scientists have used 140 million bird observations and sophisticated climate models to project how climate change will affect the range of the Brown-capped Rosy-Finch. Learn even more in our Audubon’s Survival By Degrees project.
Climate Threats Facing the Brown-capped 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.