Black Rosy Finch (Leucosticte atrata)

Black Rosy Finch

[order] PASSERIFORMES | [family] Fringillidae | [latin] Leucosticte atrata | [UK] Black Rosy Finch | [FR] Roselin noir | [DE] Rosenbauch-Schneegimpel | [ES] Pinzon Montano Negro | [NL]


Monotypic species

Physical charateristics

Rosy-Finches are sparrow-sized birds of the high snowfields; they walk, not hop. Taxonomists have recently been lumping and splitting the various races and now recognize three distinct species. Male:
Similar to Gray-crowned but blackish rather than brown, gray band around head; pinkish wash on the belly, wings and rump. Female: Dark gray; the gray head patch almost absent.

wingspan min.: 31 cm wingspan max.: 35 cm
size min.: 14 cm size max.: 16 cm
incubation min.: 12 days incubation max.: 14 days
fledging min.: 16 days fledging max.: 22 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 3  
      eggs max.: 6  


North America : Westcentral USA


Rocky summits, alpine snowfields and tundra; winters in open country at lower levels.
Breeds on barren tundra of mountain peaks, mostly in rocky areas and often near persistent snowfields. Winters in open country of mountains and nearby valleys, often coming into towns.


Males apparently outnumber females, and during the breeding season a male who has a mate usually attends her closely to keep rival males away.
Located in a well-protected site in a crevice or hole in a cliff, usually in an inaccessible place; sometimes in a niche among boulders of a rockslide. Nest (built by female) is a bulky open cup of grass and moss, lined with fine grass, animal hair, and
sometimes feathers.
Eggs: 4-5, sometimes 3. White, unmarked. Incubation is by female only, about 12-14 days.
Both parents bring food for the nestlings, although the female may do most of it at first. Young probably leave the nest about 20 days after hatching, are fed by their parents for at least another 2 weeks. 1 brood per year.

Feeding habits

Mostly seeds and insects. Feeds mainly
on seeds of grasses and weeds, especially in winter. Also eats many insects when available, mainly in summer. Young are fed mostly insects. Will eat salt.
Forages on the ground or on snow. Snowbanks are favored foraging sites, the birds finding frozen insects and seeds revealed by snowmelt. During breeding season, adults develop throat pouches which allow them to carry more food for the young at one time.
Except when nesting, usually forages in flocks, often mixed with other kinds of Rosy-Finches.


This species has a very large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appears to be stable, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size may be moderately small to large, but it is not believed to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
Black Rosy Finch status Least Concern


Southwestern Montana, central Idaho, western Wyoming, northeastern Nevada, northern Utah. Migration:
Most apparently move downhill in late fall, with flocks appearing in high valleys and plateaus in winter, including areas some distance to south of breeding range.

Distribution map

Black Rosy Finch distribution range map

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