Gray-crowned Rosy Finch
Leucosticte tephrocotis

1/1600s at f10.0, ISO:4000, Canon EOS-1DX w/800mm, x1.4 converter

The gray-crowned rosy finch is a species native to Alaska, western Canada, and the north-western United States. Due to its remote and rocky alpine habitat it is rarely seen. There are currently six recognized subspecies. It is one of four species of rosy finches. All rosy finches live in an alpine or tundra environment. Rosy finches are very environment-specific. In the summer their breeding habitat is rocky islands and barren areas on mountains from Alaska to the northwestern United States. These mountain breeding areas tend to be snowfields and rocky scree. They descend in flocks as far as the fringes of the western plains beginning in autumn when the snows get deep. They return to alpine regions when snow is still deep in early spring. They may breed at a higher altitude than any other breeding bird in North America. They build a cup nest in mid-June at a sheltered, hidden location on the ground or on a cliff and are monogamous. Both sexes collect the nesting material of grass, roots, lichen, moss, and sedge, but only the female builds the nest. The female lays 3 to 5 eggs that she incubates for approximately two weeks. Both sexes feed the chicks, which leave the nest after 2 to 3 weeks. Chicks continue to be fed by their parents for about two weeks after leaving the nest in late July or early August. A male will defend its female's territory during breeding season, not just the nest but wherever she goes. This behavior is common with the rosy finches.
Saint Paul Island, AK