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Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch

Leucosticte tephrocotis

Length: 6 inches Wingspan: 9 inches Seasonality: Winter
ID Keys: Gray band across nape, black patch on forehead and front of crown, dark brown body with pinkish wings and rump

Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch - Leucosticte tephrocotisThe Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch are found in high-mountain rocky and snowy areas during the summer breeding season, but will occasionally spill out onto the Great Plains during winter as they seek lower elevations.  There are different races with variations in the gray nape which gives the bird its name, as well as subtle variations in body plumage.  All of the Rosy-Finches, including the Gray-crowned, develop a "pouch" in the upper throat during the breeding season which is capable of holding large quantities of seeds for feeding to their young. 

Habitat: During the summer breeding season, they are primarily found on the rocky tundra and snowfields of high mountains.  They are generally found in the same type of open habitat during the winter months, although they can also be found in suburban settings at times.

Diet: They primarily feed on the seeds of grasses and weeds.  When available, they will also consume new buds, leaves, and insects.

Behavior: Does most of its feeding on the ground, although they will also occasionally capture insects in mid-air.

Breeding: Non-breeder in South Dakota

Song:  The song is a high-pitched series of chirps.  They also have a variety of calls. 

Migration: Some in Alaska and parts of the Rockies may be permanent residents.  However, most of those in Canada and the continental United States move to lower elevations during the winter, and will sometimes move well eastward into the Great Plains. 

Interactive eBird map: Click here to access an interactive eBird map of Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch sightings

Similar Species: Black Rosy-Finch, Brown-capped Rosy-Finch

Conservation Status: Still widespread and common

Further Information: 1) USGS Patuxent Bird Identification InfoCenter, Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch

2) Cornell University's "All About Birds - Gray-crowned Rosy Finch"

3) Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch

Photo Information: March 2007 - St. Paul Island, Alaska - Alan D. Wilson - Wikipedia Creative Commons


Click on the range map below for a higher-resolution view
Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch - Species Range Map
South Dakota Status: Irregular, uncommon to common winter visitor in the Black Hills and other parts of southwestern South Dakota.

Additional Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch Photos (coming soon!)