Verification of Unusual Sight Record
For Utah

Rec. # 2017-04

Common name:

Brown-capped Rosy-Finch

Scientific name: Leucosticte australis
Date: 1/13/17, 1/15/17, 1/18/17
Time: 9:45, 8:30, 7:45
Length of time observed: 30 minutes, 20 minutes, 20 minutes
Number: 10 - 45
Age: Mixed
Sex: Unknown
Location: Latigo Wind Farm along CR 196, Monticello
County: San Juan
Latilong: 3753'37.4"N 10922'52.6"W
Elevation: 7,520 feet
Distance to bird: 100 feet
Optical equipment: Nikon Monarch 7 10x42, Swarovski STS-65 HD (20-60x), Photos with iPhone 6s through scope (1/13) and Nikon P900 (1/15, 1/18)
Weather: Foggy, ~32F
Light Conditions: Foggy, poor light, and also bright sun on 1/18/17
Description:        Size of bird:  ~House Sparrow size
(Description:)       Basic Shape: Typical Finch/Rosy-Finch proportions
(Description:)  Overall Pattern: Predominantly brown.
(Description:)            Bill Type: Conical.
Field Marks and
Identifying Characteristics:
Conical bill with mostly straight upper and lower mandibles. Dark forehead fading to brown over the top of the head. Very faint grayish crown on some individuals, none visible on others. Pale pink/rose showing along folded wing. One bird appeared to be a first year BCRF, overall grayish color with no crown, others were chocolate brown. In flight, pale/translucent flight feathers were obvious on all birds in the flock.
(see photos)
Song or call & method of delivery: Flight calls of the flock typical Rosy-Finch calls. Husky light, chirp.
Behavior: Foraging on seeds from tumbleweed. Frequently flying high in flock and landing again to continue foraging. Occasionally perching in nearby bushes or Gambel's Oak. Buoyant, undulating flight.
Habitat: Plowed ground interspersed in Oak/Juniper woodland and sagebrush. ~5 inches of snow on the ground.
Similar species and how
were they eliminated:
Both Black and Gray-crowned Rosy-Finches were together with BCRF in this mixed flock. BLRF was easily eliminated due to brown color (not black or dark gray) and absence of distinct gray crown. Similar GCRF was eliminated by lack of distinct crown, or no visible crown at all. GCRF were nearby and contrast between the two head patterns was stark and easily observed through optics.
Previous experience with
this & similar species:
This is my first experience with Rosy-Finches. When first spotting the flock, due to my cursory study of these species in field guides, my first thought was Rosy-Finch and at first I assumed GCRF. Continued observation and study as well as input from a few other birders experienced with RFs led me to consider some of the birds were indeed BCRF.
References consulted: Sibley's, Stokes Field Guides. Also
Description from: From photo(s) taken at the time of the sighting
Observer: Will Britton
Observer's address: 564 N Main St Unit D, Monticello, Utah 84535
Observer's e-mail address: **
Other observers who independently identified this bird:  
Date prepared: 1/19/2017
Additional material: Photos
Additional comments: I was able to observe this flock again on 1/15/17 and 1/18/17, both better views than on 1/13 and was able to obtain better photos. I estimated the total flock size on 1/13 of about 35 individuals and based on photos was able to estimate 10 BCRF were present along with 25 GCRF and one BLRF. On 1/15 I took a photo of the flock in flight and counted ~70 birds. From my observations of the flock foraging on the ground I estimated then the make up of the flock was roughly 45 BCRF and 25 GCRF (no BLRF seen). Observations on 1/18 were similar and I estimated the same flock size and make up. Observations on 1/13 and 1/15 were both foggy and poor light. 1/18 was bright sun and the best views. Photos were back-lit by bright sun however and most photos not suitable for positive ID. Will be sending a handful of photos along with this report.