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

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.

Download Our Bird Guide App

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 Will Reshape the Range of the Brown-capped Rosy-Finch

Audubon’s scientists have used 140 million bird observations and sophisticated climate models to project how climate change will affect this bird’s range in the future.

Zoom in to see how this species’s current range will shift, expand, and contract under increased global temperatures.

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.

Explore Similar Birds