Common Name

Scientific Name

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Photo by Tim Avery
Photo Copyright Tim Avery

The gray-crowned rosy finch, Leucosticte tephrocotis, breeds in small colonies on snowfields and on rocky summits in Alaska, western Canada, and the western United States. It winters from the Arctic to the American Southwest, in open areas at lower elevations. It is commonly found in Utah during the summer and winter months. During the breeding season, it is found in alpine areas of Utah's higher mountain ranges, but during the winter, it may be found in valleys and lowlands. Gray-crowned rosy finches migrate in large, mixed flocks.

The gray-crowned rosy finch feeds primarily on the seeds of grasses and forbs, but it will also eat insects. Males greatly outnumber females; consequently, males spend a great deal of time fighting during the mating season. A male performs a courtship display for a female, and a monogamous pair bond is formed. The female either builds a cup-shaped nest on the alpine tundra, or finds a crevice in a rocky cliff. The female then lays and incubates her four or five eggs, and the male brings food to the nest. After about two weeks, the hatchlings emerge and the parents share responsibility for feeding them; the diet of the nestlings consists exclusively of insects. The hatchlings leave the nest after about three weeks.


  • Ehrlich, P. R., D. S. Dobkin, and D. Wheye. 1988. The birderís handbook[:] a field guide to the natural history of North American birds. Simon & Schuster, New York. xxx + 785 pp.

  • National Geographic Society. 1996. Field guide to the birds of North America, 2nd edition. The National Geographic Society, Washington, D. C.

  • Hayward, C. L., Cottam, C., Woodbury, A. M., and H. H. Frost. 1976. Birds of Utah. In Great Basin Naturalist Memoirs, No. 1 (Wood, S. L. and K. T. Harper, eds.). Brigham Young University, Provo, UT.