Hardy and colorful, the gray-crowned rosy-finch is a welcome visitor in mountain habitats. The most widespread of the rosy-finches, this bird also has the most plumage variation of the different rosy-finches.
- Bill: Conical, black (breeding), yellow (non-breeding)
- Size: 6 inches long with 9-inch wingspan, stout body
- Colors: Black, brown, pink, gray, white
- Markings: Dimorphic species. Males have a dark brown body with a black forehead, variable gray cheeks and nape, a faint gray eye ring and a white patch at the base of the bill. The dark wings and tail have variable white and pink, and a pink wash can be seen on the underparts. The wings are light gray underneath, and the legs and feet are black. Females have similar markings but less pink and white in the wings and tail.
Habitat and Migration:
Gray-crowned rosy-finches are hardy birds that prefer barren, rocky areas and woodland edges in mountain areas. Their summer range extends from Alaska through the Yukon Territory and British Columbia south to western Montana. The winter range extends through the Rocky Mountain region from eastern Washington and Oregon to northern Utah and eastern Colorado, though nomadic and vagrant sightings can extend much further south and east. Small populations of gray-crowned rosy-finches an be found year round in the mountains of central Oregon and Washington and in central California.
These are gregarious birds that have a raspy "twew" chirp that can be regularly repeated in a long series. The tone of the call can change pitch for aggression, warning and other situations.
These birds form large flocks in winter with other rosy-finches and even during the breeding season will remain in loosely associated flocks. They will walk or hop while foraging low in shrubs, rocky areas or grassy areas. These are bold and fearless finches and can frequently be approached quite closely in the wild.
Gray-crowned rosy-finches are monogamous birds. The female parent will incubate a clutch of 2-6 eggs for 12-14 days. After hatching, both parents feed the altricial young for another 15-22 days. A single brood is most common in mountain populations, but southern populations may raise two broods per year.
Attracting Gray-Crowned Rosy-Finches:
These finches will visit bird feeders in the appropriate habitat where mixed seed, millet or black oil sunflower seeds are offered. Backyard birders who offer bird-friendly landscaping with low shrubs, seed-bearing conifers and rock formations are also likely to attract these birds.
- Black Rosy-Finch (Leucosticte atrata)
- Brown-Capped Rosy-Finch (Leucosticte australis)
- Mongolian Finch (Bucanetes mongolicus)
- Crimson-Winged Finch (Rhodopechys sanguineus)