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Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center

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Forest and Rangeland Birds of the United States

Natural History and Habitat Use

Rosy Finch -- Leucosticte arctoa

RANGE: Breeds above timberline from Alaska to southwestern Alberta and south through the Cascades, Sierra Nevada, and the Rocky Mountains to east-central California, central Utah, and north-central New Mexico. In winter, descends to lower elevations (4,000 to 7,000 feet) but remains in the same general geographic area.

STATUS: Common.

HABITAT: Prefers barren, rocky or grassy areas and cliffs among glaciers or above timberline for breeding habitat. In winter, descends to lower elevation open habitat such as fields, cultivated lands, brushy areas, and areas of human habitation.

SPECIAL HABITAT REQUIREMENTS: Talus or cliffs for nesting.

NEST: Nests in the cracks or holes of cliffs that offer protection. Builds a bulky nest of grasses and dry stalks of various herbaceous materials, lining it with fine grass and feathers.

FOOD: Consumes a diet that consists of vegetable material (more than 75 percent), mainly small seeds of alpine plants. Occasionally eats leaves and fruiting capsules and also consumes insects that are frozen in snow, as well as small insects found on the ground or in vegetation.

REFERENCES: French 1959, Johnson 1965.

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