Brown-capped Rosy-Finch (Leucosticte australis)
Associated Species: Often found in alpine habitats used by American Pipits, Horned Larks, and
Distribution: In breeding season this species is found in alpine tundra in Colorado, south into
northern New Mexico, and north into southeastern Wyoming. Winters at lower elevations in
mountain valleys, foothills, and eastern plains. Breeding and winter distributions are very local.
Colorado is the center of their distribution.
Habitat Requirements: Brown-capped Rosy-Finches breed above treelimit in cliffs, cirques,
talus slopes, and rock slides (Bailey and Niedrach 1965). Some nesting occurs in abandoned
mines or buildings. Edges of snowfields often used for foraging.
Ecology: Arrives on breeding areas in April-May but nesting delayed until late June or July.
Remains in alpine until winter snows cause migration to lower elevations. Diet is comprised
primarily of vegetative material, especially seeds of grasses, sedges, and forbs (Braun 1980).
Brown-capped Rosy-Finches are commonly observed at feeders in mountain or foothill urban
areas in winter. Often nomadic outside the breeding season. Knowledge of many aspects of their
ecology is lacking.
Management Issues and Conservation Recommendations: Suitable nesting habitats
considered limiting. Grazing, mining, recreation, road building, and water storage development
have impacted alpine habitats. Because breeding areas are very localized, this species is
vulnerable to environmental and human disturbances. Because of its isolated breeding range, it is
not monitored by the BBS or other monitoring programs.
Reasons for Concern: This species has a high conservation need locally and throughout its
range. Also, a very high proportion of this species' total population (estimated at 100%) occurs
within this physiographic area, indicating that this area has the highest (and perhaps sole)
responsibility for the conservation of this species.
Biological Objective: Maintain current populations and breeding distribution of this species in
alpine habitats of Colorado, New Mexico, and Wyoming, as based on results from the M2001 and
other monitoring programs.
Habitat Objectives: Protect cliffs, talus slopes, and cirques known to have breeding populations
of Brown-capped Rosy-Finches.
Selected References: Bailey and Niedrach 1965, Braun 1980.