Living Bird Magazine
Black Rosy-FinchLeucosticte atrata
- ORDER: Passeriformes
- FAMILY: Fringillidae
Above treeline in the mountains of the western United States resides a chunky finch seemingly oblivious to cold and snow. The Black Rosy-Finch nests in cliffs and crevices in alpine areas where few people go. This nearly black finch has a gray cap and pink highlights on the wings and belly. It descends to slightly lower elevations in the winter when snow cover is deep, foraging at the edges of melting snow, along roadsides, or at feeders.More ID Info
Find This Bird
Finding a Black Rosy-Finch typically means two things: dressing warmly and heading uphill. In the summer, you'll need to get above treeline. Hike a trail to an alpine area or take advantage of a tram that takes you to the top. When you’re as high as you can go, look for them in open areas near cliffs and around snowmelt. In the winter, deep snow at higher elevations means they are more likely to descend and seek out feeders. They forage in large flocks often with other rosy-finches. Their black bodies and smaller gray cap separate them from Brown-capped and Gray-crowned Rosy-finches.
- Pinzón Montano Negro (Spanish)
- Roselin noir (French)
This species often comes to bird feeders in the winter and eats black oil sunflower seeds and nyjer seeds, often from platform feeders or seed scattered on the ground. Find out more about what this bird likes to eat and what feeder is best by using the Project FeederWatch Common Feeder Birds bird list.
- Cool Facts
- The breeding biology of the Black Rosy-Finch is unusual in that a male primarily defends a floating territory around his mate, rather than a fixed piece of real estate. As a result, males constantly chase other males that approach their mates too closely, and females are most readily located by looking near the center of all the fighting.
- Wintering flocks of Black Rosy-Finches roost in large communal roosts in caves, mineshafts, on rafters of barns, and in clusters of old Cliff Swallow nests.
- Rosy-finches, like Pine Grosbeaks, have a special pouch at the bottom of their mouth that they stuff with extra food to feed their young. This pouch means that they can travel longer distances to search for food, sometimes traveling more than 2.5 miles from the nest site.
- The oldest recorded Black Rosy-Finch was a male, and at least 8 years, 7 months old when it was recaptured and rereleased during banding operations in Wyoming, the same state where it had been banded.