Boreal Birds
300+ species, billions of birds rely on Canada's boreal forest as critical breeding grounds
© Alan D. Wilson/Wikimedia Commons (CC 3.0)

Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch

Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch
Leucosticte tephrocotis
Perching Birds | Family: Finches, Fringillidae

An estimated 58% of the species' North American population breeds within the Boreal Forest.

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Overview

During breeding, both the male and the female Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch grow a pair of "gular pouches," opening from the floor of the mouth, which they use to carry food to the young. This species feeds mainly on minute alpine plant seeds and insects wind-borne from lower elevations. The Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch is found farther to the west than the similar Brown-capped Rosy-Finch and Black Rosy-Finch. The ancestors of the rosy-finches came from Asia. The mosaic distribution of forms in the West may result from the splitting of one population during glacial periods, or from multiple invasions from Asia.

Description

5 3/4-6 3/4" (15-17 cm). Dark brown back and underparts; black forehead; gray nape and crown; pink shoulder and rump. Face gray in coastal birds, brown in interior populations. Female is similar, but less colorful.

Voice

Flying flocks give harsh cheep, cheep notes.

Nesting

3-5 white eggs in a bulky nest placed in a rock cavity.

Habitat

Alpine tundra and high snowfields; winters in nearby lowlands.

Range/Migration

Breeds from Alaska to California. Descends to lower elevations near breeding areas in winter.