Snowmass, Colorado Rosy Finch Project

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Snowmass, Colorado Rosy Finch Project

From the SOS Outreach Blog (Avon, Colorado)

SOS Outreash: A nonprofit building character in youth through outdoor adventure

Rosy Finch Project

Posted by Beth Rusticus on March 24, 2011 at 5:38pm

Saturday March 26
Meeting at 12:45pm at the base of the gondola in River Run
Pick up at 3:30pm in the same place

We will be educating the public on the Rosy Finch project. There is information on the project below. Please read before the service day and take notes on 5 facts you can share with the public. See you Saturday.

White River National Forest Rosy-Finch Color Banding Project began in 2006-2007 at Snowmass, in 2011 Keystone joins the project.

Brown-capped Rosy Finches are found only in the Southern Rocky Mountains and are virtually endemic to Colorado particularly on US Forest Service lands. They don’t migrate; rather they flock down to lower elevations during stormy weather, roving sometimes in groups of several hundred. Rosy finches raise their young in the alpine tundra during a narrow window of time (July 22-August 22). Their nesting habitat, like all rosy-finches, is limited to vertical cliffs and crags in the alpine tundra where they breed in loose colonies.

The Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory has ranked Brown-Capped Rosy-Finches # 2 in monitoring priority for its Monitoring Colorado Birds Program. Rosy-finches are poorly monitored by traditional point count techniques and require innovative monitoring techniques.

During the 2006-2007 winter seasons, White River National Forest biologists were invited to utilize the Snowmass bird feeder project and established a winter rosy-finch banding station to assist the Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory in their monitoring effort.Bird feeders at Sam’s Knob are used to lure flocks of rosy-finches.

In 2011 the expanding project includes Summit County with a second rosy finch station on Keystone Mountain where banding will begin in February.

A licensed bird-bander outfits the rosy-finches with individually numbered aluminum Fish and Wildlife Service bands as well as color bands representing the county of capture. The public is invited to observe this process and asked to report all sightings of the color marked birds. Volunteers are on hand to interpret the banding function and process. We feel this is a great opportunity to provide an educational experience for adults and children alike while participating in much needed research with a bird species that lives almost exclusively in Colorado.

What better way to explore the concept of climate change than in the alpine where we are already experiencing increases in temperatures. Frequencies of dust emissions in the region have already accelerated alpine snowmelt dates, potentially leading to an advance in the initiation of rosy-finch annual breeding. These changes will likely cause a shift in the distribution of rosy-finches. While it is unlikely that management directed at rosy-finches alone could lessen threats to this endemic species, they have the potential to act as catalysts for citizen involvement in addressing policy designed to mitigate the causes of global warming.

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ABOUT SOS Outreach International

SOS Outreach was founded in 1993 in Colorado’s Vail Valley. As a nonprofit organization, SOS programs build character and self-esteem in youth through outdoor activities and the SOS curriculum. SOS served 5,190 youth in 2009-2010 and offered 18,553 total program days. This year SOS is projected to serve 5,500 youth in 15 states and New Zealand.

SOS began as the Snowboard Outreach Society, with a group of snowboarders who wanted to expose underprivileged youth to the mountains, as well as to the sport of snowboarding. Since its founding, SOS has expanded across individual winter sports to include skiing, snowboarding and snowshoeing while incorporating a youth development curriculum.


In January, SOS merged with Meet the Wilderness, a 34-year-old organization based in summer adventure programs.The merger ensures that 2,000 additional youth are served through predominately summer outdoor adventure education programs. As a now combined organization, SOS is positioned to efficiently provide year-round programming to underserved youth.