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Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch Identification

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The Four Keys to ID

  • Size & Shape

    A small songbird with a short, conical bill and a fairly short tail. Subspecies on the Aleutian and Pribilof Islands are considerably larger, shaped more like a grosbeak than a small finch.

    Relative Size

    Larger than an American Goldfinch, slightly smaller than a House Sparrow (except on Alaskan islands, where they are nearly as large as an Evening Grosbeak).

    Relative Sizesparrow or smallersparrow-sized or smaller

    • Both Sexes
      • Length: 5.5-8.3 in (14-21 cm)
      • Weight: 0.8-2.1 oz (22-60 g)
      • Wingspan: 13.0 in (33 cm)

Regional Differences

Ornithologists recognize six subspecies, three that have mostly grayish faces, three that have gray in the crown but brownish cheeks. Two of the gray-headed subspecies—griseonucha and umbrina—live on the Aleutian and the Pribilof Islands, respectively. These are both very large subspecies, weighing twice as much as the continental subspecies. The other gray-headed subspecies, the small littoralis, is often called “Hepburn’s” Rosy-Finch. It nests from mainland Alaska south to California. Three rather similar subspecies with gray crown markings and brown cheeks, tephrocotis, wallowa, and dawsoni, nest farther east, in interior mountains of the West.