Bird GuideFinchesGray-crowned Rosy-Finch
Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch
Leucosticte tephrocotis

At a Glance

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.
Finches, Perching Birds
Low Concern
Coasts and Shorelines, Desert and Arid Habitats, High Mountains, Tundra and Boreal Habitats
Alaska and The North, California, Northwest, Plains, Rocky Mountains, Southwest, Western Canada
Flitter, Rapid Wingbeats, Undulating

Range & Identification

Migration & Range Maps

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.


5 3/4-6 3/4" (15-17 cm). Mostly brown, with rose-pink wash on belly, rump, and wings. Male has gray band across nape, wider in some races than others. Females may be very similar to other female rosy-finches.
About the size of a Robin, About the size of a Sparrow
Black, Brown, Gray, Pink, Red, Yellow
Wing Shape
Tail Shape
Notched, Square-tipped

Songs and Calls

Flying flocks give harsh cheep, cheep notes.
Call Pattern
Flat, Rising
Call Type
Buzz, Chirp/Chip, Hi


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.



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.


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.

Feeding Behavior

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


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.


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.

Climate Vulnerability

Conservation Status

Fairly widespread and common, numbers probably stable. Most of its breeding range is remote from impacts of human disturbance.

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 Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch. Learn even more in our Audubon’s Survival By Degrees project.

Climate Threats Facing the Gray-crowned 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.