Verification of Unusual Sight Record
For Utah

Rec. # 2017-60

Common name:

Brown-capped Rosy-Finch

Scientific name: Leucosticte australis
Date: 15 Nov 2017
Time: 11:14 AM
Length of time observed: 5 minutes
Number: 1
Age: Hatch Year
Sex: Male
Location: Large sandstone island near "Big Drop" motorcycle trail
County: Grand
Latilong: 38.7434,-109.89668
Elevation: 4800 feet
Distance to bird: 30 to 40 feet
Optical equipment: Canon SX60 superzoom camera
Weather: calm 55 degrees
Light Conditions: very light overcast
Description:        Size of bird: Similar to House Finch
(Description:)       Basic Shape:  Finch
(Description:)  Overall Pattern: Overall pale brown, pink flanks, dull black/gray crown and nape
(Description:)            Bill Type: Compact and conical, seed-eater
Field Marks and
Identifying Characteristics:
This bird was clearly a Rosy-Finch based on body size and shape, bill size and shape, and pale brown body with pink flanks. The legs and feet are black, the bill is yellow with a dark tip. The forehead is rather pale black, fading to gray on the nape. There is a slightly lighter area above the eye, however is it small and indistinct. From above the tail, primaries, and greater coverts appear black with pale edges.

The following information is taken from comments given my Michael Hilchey on the photos. (Michael has banded Rosy-Finches on Sandia Crest in New Mexico):

The crown is composed of a nearly black forehead and then dark feathers with grayish tips creating an overall mottled appearance.

We can age the bird by the narrow and completely white edges to the greater coverts, adults should have broad edges that are usually quite pink. A young bird with that much pink in the belly is likely to be a male.
(see photos)
Song or call & method of delivery: Did not vocalize
Behavior: Foraging for seeds from ground.
Habitat: Bird seen in small dirt area with a couple of plants sited in large sandstone island. General terrain in this area: open and relatively sparsely vegetated desert. some areas of bare sandstone. Brush and cottonwood trees in nearby washes.
Similar species and how
were they eliminated:
The only other finches with pink flanks would be Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch and Black Rosy-Finch. Black Rosy-Finch can be eliminated by body color, as the subject bird is pale brown while Black Rosy-Finch would be black or gray. Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch can be eliminated by the following: subject bird has paler brown body color, weak contrast between the crown and face, and low contrast in the black/gray in the crown with no distinct gray patch over the eye.
Previous experience with
this & similar species:
Have seen Rosy-finches, including Brown-capped, in Colorado (Snowmass) and Utah (Alta).
References consulted: National Geographic Birds of North America, 7th Edition. Sibley Guide to the Birds, Second Edition. Cornell University Birds Of North America Online. Article "In The Scope: Brown-capped Rosy-Finch. (
Description from: From photo(s) taken at the time of the sighting
Observer: Glenn Kincaid
Observer's address: HC64 Box 2404 Castle Valley Utah 84532
Observer's e-mail address: **
Other observers who independently identified this bird:  
Date prepared: 17 Nov 2017
Additional material: Photos
Additional comments: