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Brown-capped Rosy-Finch


IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

Like the other rosy-finches, the Brown-capped Rosy-Finch is a bird of the high mountains, breeding above timberline. It has the smallest range of the three American species, being found primarily in Colorado.

At a GlanceHelp

Both Sexes
5.5–6.3 in
14–16 cm
13 in
33 cm
0.8–1.2 oz
23–33 g
Other Names
  • Rosy Finch (in part)
  • Roselin à tête brune (French)

Cool Facts

  • It usually takes a female Brown-capped Rosy-Finch one to three days to construct a nest (the male does not help). At one site, however, construction took 18 days because wind completely removed the nest twice. Another female took 11 to 14 days to build her nest because the nest material kept sliding off the sloping nest ledge.
  • The Brown-capped Rosy-Finch lines its nest with grass, feathers, and fur. It also has been recorded using, cotton, pieces of cloth, ravelings of burlap, and, in one nest, a piece of blasting fuse.
  • Rosy-finches build their nests in crevices where they stay completely in the shade. One Brown-capped Rosy-Finch nest was frozen in ice each night when the water trickling through the site froze.
  • The oldest recorded Brown-capped Rosy-Finch was a male, and at least 5 years, 11 months old, when he was recaptured and rereleased during banding operations in Colorado.



Above timberline wherever proper cliffs, caves, rock slides, or old buildings provide nest sites, and where adequate feeding grounds on tundra, rock slides, snowfields, and glaciers are within commuting distance. Winters in open areas, including alpine tundra during fair weather, and in high parks, meadows, and open valleys of grass or open shrubland between mountain ranges.



Seeds, insects, and spiders.


Nesting Facts
Clutch Size
3–6 eggs
Egg Description
Condition at Hatching
Helpless with sparse down.
Nest Description

Tightly woven cup of fine grass, stems, and rootlets surrounded by thicker layer of woven coarse stems and roots and mud, lined with grass, feathers, and hair. Placed under large rocks in rockslides and moraines; on rafters in old buildings; on walls of caves, abandoned mines, and railroad tunnels; and most frequently in holes, fissures, and ledges of cliffs.

Nest Placement



Ground Forager

Picks insects and seeds from surface of snow, mud, and tundra.


status via IUCN

Least Concern

Brown-capped Rosy-Finch populations may be declining. Partners in Flight estimates a global breeding population of 45,000 with 100% living in the U.S. They rate a 17 out of 20 on the Continental Concern Score, are a Tri-National Concern Species, and a U.S.-Canada Stewardship species. Brown-capped Rosy-Finch are on the 2014 State of the Birds Watch List, which lists bird species that are at risk of becoming threatened or endangered without conservation action.


Range Map Help

Brown-capped Rosy-Finch Range Map
View dynamic map of eBird sightings

Backyard Tips

This species often comes to bird feeders. 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.



Or Browse Bird Guide by Family, Name or Shape
bird image Blue-winged Warbler by Brian Sullivan

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