Verification of Unusual Sight Record
For Utah

Rec. # 2008-36

Common name:

Brown-capped Rosy-Finch

Scientific name: Leucosticte australis
Date: 12/13/08
Time: 8:05AM
Length of time observed: 30 minutes
Number: One
Age: Unknown
Sex: Unknown
Location: Private residence in the foothills of the La Sal Mountains south of Moab
County: San Juan
Latilong: Home owner prefers to remain unlocated
Elevation: 6160'
Distance to bird: 15 feet
Optical equipment: Leica 8 x 32 Binoculars; 400mm camera lens
Weather: Cloudy, windy, 43 degrees
Light Conditions: Subdued, flat lighting
Description:        Size of bird: small, finch sized, maybe about 6" in length
(Description:)       Basic Shape: Finch-like
(Description:)  Overall Pattern: Brown with pink wings and belly
(Description:)            Bill Type: Short, yellow, seed-eating thick
Field Marks and
Identifying Characteristics:
Small finch-like bird with a short, yellow bill, subtle eye-ring, and black feet. The crown is dark grayish-brown. The neck, body and chest are tannish-brown with subtle darker brown streaking running lengthwise down the back and chest. There is not a strong contrast between the crown and the body. The upper wings and underbelly are pink. The outer wings are dark brown with white edging as is the tail. The tail is forked.
(see photos)
Song or call & method of delivery: None noted
Behavior: Feeding
Habitat: Feeding station on a boulder
Similar species and how
were they eliminated:
The bird was flocking with about 100 Black Rosy Finches as well as juncos and House Finches. The bird was obviously browner in color than the Black Rosy Finches, particularly across the back and chest. The crown was very muted dark gray-brown and did not markedly contrast with the rest of the body as is the case with the crown-body contrast of both Black and Gray-crowned Rosy Finches. It was bigger than the house finches and the juncos without any of the color patterning of either of those birds. The pink wings and underbelly also eliminated its identification as a junco or a house finch.
Previous experience with
this & similar species:
Have seen many Black Rosy Finches in the past. The Brown-capped is a life bird for me.
References consulted: Sibley, both Western and the national version; National Geo.
Description from: Notes taken at time of sighting
Observer: Chris Goetze
Observer's address: PO Box 1369, Moab, Utah 84532
Observer's e-mail address:
Other observers who independently identified this bird: Barb Smith, Chris Florian, Nick and Marian Eason; Bud Turner was the photographer
Date prepared: 12/14/08
Additional material: Photos
Additional Comments: Three Brown-caps were seen at the same location under the same circumstances (except it was sunny) on 12/6/08. I am submitting the 12/13 sighting because that was the day that photos were taken.