Ian’s Bird of the Week – Grey-crowned Rosy Finch

Grey-crowned Rosy Finch (Leucosticte tephrocotis) by Ian

Grey-crowned Rosy Finch (Leucosticte tephrocotis) by Ian

Newsletter 03-25-09

I have at last finished major changes to the website and can now look forward to turning my attention back to Australian birds. I’m planning trips soon to chase up a few Australian species that haven’t made it to the website yet.

Grey-crowned Rosy Finch (Leucosticte tephrocotis) by Ian

Grey-crowned Rosy Finch (Leucosticte tephrocotis) by Ian

In the meantime, here is yet another bird from St Paul Island in the Bering Sea. Most of the birds there are seabirds or waders and only 4 species of passerine nest there. One is a summer visitor – the Lapland Longspur – while 3 are residents – the Snow Bunting and the Bering Sea races of the Winter Wren and the Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch, both larger than the mainland races. The Rosy-Finch is a startlingly beautiful bird which stands out in the harsh tundra: pink doesn’t mean delicate!

The bird on the rock, in the first photo, is a male, while the second, perched on a garbage container beside the wall of the airport/hotel is a female. This unfortunate bird had just lost its newly fledged offspring to an Arctic Fox which we saw running sneakily away with something in its mouth as we arrived back at the hotel. The mother searched everywhere frantically, calling repeatedly and it was sad to watch.

Artic Fox by Ian

Artic Fox by Ian

Life is tough in the Bering Sea and the foxes have to make do like everyone else. There are no other terrestrial mammals, so their usual diet of Lemmings is missing. Instead they feed all year round on marine invertebrates, particularly sea urchins, and whatever else they can scavenge along the coast including seaweed. In the nesting season, they raid the nests of seabirds and we saw another fox on a cliff top making off with the egg of a Murre (Guillemot). The good news, from an avian point of view, is that there are no resident raptors and the only other scavenger is the resident Glaucous-winged Gull.

The visible changes to the website include a consistent structure for bird families and their index (thumbnail) pages, conforming, as far as possible, to both the Birdlife International taxonomy (definition of families and order of species) for non-Australian birds and to Christidis & Boles (2008) for Australian Birds.

I’ve finished linking all the top-level family indices with Previous and Next buttons so you can now navigate through the more than 130 families represented on the site following the Birdlife International sequence.

Behind the scenes, the changes will make the website easier to maintain and update so I can spend more time taking photographs!

Best wishes,

Ian Montgomery, Birdway Pty Ltd,
454 Forestry Road, Bluewater, Qld 4818
Phone: +61-7 4751 3115
Preferred Email: ian@birdway.com.au
Website: http://birdway.com.au

Lee’s Additions:


I added links to photos of the birds he mentioned in his newsletter. I always enjoy looking the bird when I see its name.

But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone. (Hebrews 2:9 ESV)

“The Gray-crowned Rosy Finch, Leucosticte tephrocotis, is a medium-sized finch.

Adults are brown on the back and breast and mainly pink on the rest of the underparts and the wings. The forehead and throat are black; the back of the head is grey. They have short black legs and a long forked tail. There is some variability in the amount of grey on the head.

Their breeding habitat is rocky islands and barren areas on mountains from Alaska to the northwestern United States. They build a cup nest in a sheltered location on the ground or on a cliff.

These birds are permanent residents on some islands and in the Canadian Rockies. Other birds migrate south to the western United States.

These birds forage on the ground, many fly to catch insects in flight. They mainly eat seeds from weeds and grasses, and insects. They often feed in small flocks.

At one time, this bird, the Black Rosy Finch and the Brown-capped Rosy Finch were considered to be the same species as the Asian Rosy Finch.”
(From Wikipedia – Gray-crowned Rosy-finch) Gray change to Grey in August 2009

See:  http://rosyfinch.com

2 thoughts on “Ian’s Bird of the Week – Grey-crowned Rosy Finch

  1. Flocks of all three North American rosy-finch species (Black, Brown-capped and two races of Gray-crowned, the gray-cheeked coastal and dark-cheeked interior) may be seen together during the winter at Sandia Crest near Albuquerque, New Mexico. Served by a paved road, this is the most accessible place in the world to see them. More information on the rosyfinch Web site.


    • Thanks Ken for the information. Maybe some of our western USA readers can go and get a chance to view them. In fact, I just put a link to your Rosyfinch.com site at the bottom of the article.


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