Knowing how special it is to have the rosy finches visit the Crest each year, I was surprised to see an individual Gray-Crowned Rosy Finch at my backyard feeder yesterday (October 14, 2012). I am located at about 7000' in elevation on the Edgewood side of the Sedillo Hill area.
I was wondering from the expert finch community if there was more significance to this sighting other than adding a new species to my backyard bird list. I was also lucky enough to get some photos to document the sighting.
That is a very unusual sighting, Justin, in fact the first I've heard about at that elevation in the East Mountains, and also the earliest. Is it possible for you to post your photos to document the sighting? Alternatively you may e-mail them to me and I can post them for you. If so documented, it should be reported to eBird along with the photos.
During the winter several years ago, rosy-finches flocked to a feeder in Madrid, which is only about 6,000 feet elevation, so their appearance away from the snow-covered ridges is not nearly as unusual as the time of year. I look forward to seeing the photos.
Here is the photo of the possible Rosy Finch in my backyard. It was taken through a screen so its not that clear unfortunately. Hope it loaded correctly, first time on the forum. Thanks for the response!
Thanks, Justin. They are actually House Finches. Many people do erroneously call them "Rosy-Finches." Here is one of my photos of a male House Finch. Note that it has streaks on its breast that extend down to the flanks, and the bright brick-red color is most intense on its head and upper breast:
For comparison, here is a Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch (Hepburn's or Coastal race). It lacks streaking underneath, and the subdued "rosy" pink color is confined to its "shoulder" feathers and lower breast :
Thanks so much for the report, and let's hope those rosies do show up in your yard some day. I hoped to see them in my Cedar Crest (also 7000 feet elevation) yard feeders for over 11 years, but no luck!
Oh well, I was thrown off by the light-colored head he has in comparison to the bird on the right. Of all the house finches I get at the feeder this one stuck out like a sore thumb, both in coloration and mannerisms. A juvenile I guess?
Individual House Finches may vary quite a bit in the amount of color. Females do not have any red, while males seem to be brightest in the spring. My photo was taken in early May, and that one was unusually bright. Some look more on the orange side or even yellowish.
Also, look at the shape of the bill. In House Finches the top of the bill (called the culmen) curves down slightly ("parrot-like"), while the similar Cassin's Finch has a very straight culmen. It is important to notice this feature because the Cassin's Finch is very likely to show up on your feeder some winters. There are other ways to help distinguish Cassin's from House Finch. These features are nicely displayed at this Cornell Lab Web site: