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Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch


IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

A songbird of extreme environments, the Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch is found in open ground at the top of mountains from Alaska to California and out on the Aleutian and Pribilof islands.

At a GlanceHelp

Both Sexes
5.5–8.3 in
14–21 cm
13 in
33 cm
0.8–2.1 oz
22–60 g
Other Names
  • Rosy Finch (in part) (English)
  • Roselin brun, Roselin à tête grise (French)

Cool Facts

  • The Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch is divided into six subspecies. The Pribilof and Aleutian forms are particularly large, weighing approximately twice as much as the smaller forms. The three subspecies found in the interior mountains have brown cheeks and the others have gray cheeks.
  • Perhaps because of its remote breeding sites, which allow little contact with humans, the Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch seems almost fearless. On its breeding grounds, foraging birds can be approached to within 1-2 meters (3-6 feet).
  • Although all forms of rosy-finches in North American were merged with the Asian Rosy-Finch (Leucosticte arctoa) into a single species from 1983 to 1993, justification for this action was viewed as insufficient and was contradicted by genetic, biochemical, and morphological evidence. Once again, three distinct North American species of rosy-finch are recognized, with Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch being the most widely distributed and abundant form.
  • Because of the remoteness of its breeding sites, few nests of the Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch have been found.
  • The oldest recorded Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch was a female, and at least 6 years, 7 months old when she was recaptured and rereleased during banding operations in Alaska.



Breeds in alpine areas, usually near snow fields or glaciers, talus, rockpiles, and cliffs. Winters in open country, including mountain meadows, shrublands, roadsides, towns, cultivated areas, rocky hillsides, and margins of dry ditches.



Seeds, insects, and some vegetation.


Nesting Facts
Clutch Size
2–6 eggs
Egg Description
White and unmarked, or with some reddish or brownish specks.
Condition at Hatching
Helpless and covered with long, fluffy gray down that only partially conceals skin.
Nest Description

Bulky cup of moss, lichen, grass, and sedge, lined with fine grass, hair, wool, and feathers. Placed in crack or hole in cliff or on small cliff ledge under overhanging rocks, occasionally on the ground, and rarely on a building. Usually not visible, totally hidden in cracks or holes or among boulders.

Nest Placement



Ground Forager

Generally forages among low plants and picks insects from plants and off of snowfields. Also captures flying insects on the wing and forages in conifers.


status via IUCN

Least Concern

Population trends of Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch are difficult to estimate, in part due to the species' remote breeding areas. Partners in Flight estimates a global breeding population of 200,000 with 88% spending part of the year in the U.S., and 43% in Canada. The species rates a 12 out of 20 on the Continental Concern Score and is not on the 2014 State of the Birds Watch List. The remoteness of breeding sites reduces the impacts of human activity.


Range Map Help

Gray-crowned 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.



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bird image Blue-winged Warbler by Brian Sullivan

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