Verification of Unusual Sight Record
For Utah

Rec. # 2014-036

Common name:

Brown-capped Rosy-Finch

Scientific name: Leucosticte australis
Date: 12-08-2014
Time: 2:00pm
Length of time observed: 15 minutes
Number: 1
Age: immature
Sex: male
Location: Alta
County: Salt Lake
Elevation: 8,500ft
Distance to bird: less than 3m
Optical equipment: Nikon 10x50 Binocular, Canon SX50 HS Camera
Weather: Sunny,40F
Light Conditions: Very bright, rather harsh, but the very close range of the bird eliminated lighting challenges
Description:        Size of bird: Medium sized Finch
(Description:)       Basic Shape: Finch shaped
(Description:)  Overall Pattern: Overall brown body, very dull mostly blackish cap
(Description:)            Bill Type: Short,conical finch bill
Field Marks and
Identifying Characteristics:
What I first noticed was a brown Rosy-finch with a low contrast dull cap that was mostly blackish rather than silvery gray. It was mixed with 2 'Interior' Gray-crowned Rosy-finches and 2 'Hepburn's Gray-crowned Rosy-finches, giving great comparisons.The definitive field mark distinguishing this species from 'Interior' Gray-crowned Rosy-finch is the amount of black in the crown. In 'Interior' Gray-crowned the black is limited to the forehead, in this species the black goes through the crown and even onto the nape, and the gray is limited to being a narrow supercilium behind the eye. I sent my photos of this bird off to colleagues I work with at Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory, including Jason Beason and Tony Leukering, and they confirmed this bird is a Brown-capped Rosy-finch,immature male.
(see photos)
Song or call & method of delivery: Gave several typical Rosy-finch contact call, sounded essential identical to my ear to the others. I do not believe the calls differ among the species of Rosy-finch.
Behavior: This finch was mixed with 4 Gray-crowned Rosy-finches,feeding on sunflowers seed on the ground under feeders. However, it seemed to avoid the other Rosy-finches, and mostly feed off by itself a meter or so away from the others,which all feed together,and when they flushed it landed in a different tree by itself, and then returned to feed before the others.
Habitat: Mixed upper montane forest of Aspen-Spruce/Fir, on the edge of town, feeding at bird feeders I put especially to attract Rosy-finches. Alta is famous for its Rosy-finch flocks in winter
Similar species and how
were they eliminated:
See notes above
Previous experience with
this & similar species:
I've seen this species 3 other times in Colorado, including this past summer above Telluride in August. However since all my sighting have been in summer, there was no other species of Rosy-finch with them to confuse the ID,making it much simpler.
References consulted: Sibley,2014. Opinions of Jason Beason(Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory), and Tony Leukering(Colorado eBird reviewer, and experience bander of Rosy-finches in Colorado).
Description from: From photo(s) taken at the time of the sighting
Observer: Bryant Olsen
Observer's address: 688 East 700 South #105, SLC, UT 84102
Observer's e-mail address: **
Other observers who independently identified this bird: Matt Pendelton and Shyloh Robinson may have seen the same finch the next day
Date prepared: 12-12-2014
Additional material: Photos
Additional_Comments: E-mail opinions:
"Here is another opinion from Tony Leukering (he knows his stuff!). Tony has also banded many BCRF."-From Jason Beason
"Agreed(with Jason Beasons ID of Brown-capped Rosy-finch). It looks like a 1st-cycle male. Wings have little pink, as does belly, so a 1st-cycle. Head has an adult pattern, so a male -- imm females are just plain dull overall.


"Sure looks like a Brown-capped Rosy-Finch to me! I have forwarded to Kim Potter. She has banded hundreds (or thousands?) and her input will be valuable.


** I Haven't heard back from Kim Potter by the time of this report was being filled out