Native to montane habitats in the western United States, the Black Rosy finch, Leucosticte atrata, was first identified as a unique species by Robert Ridgway in 1874.
It is one of three similar species of rosy-finches in North America—the Black, Gray-crowned, and Brown-capped Rosy-finch. Breeding in high-altitude tundra habitats from northern New Mexico north through the Rocky Mountains, into Canada, Alaska, the Aleutian Islands, and the Bering Sea, in winter the birds disperse great distances in search of food. They are most frequently observed when they congregate in large mixed-species flocks at feeders in winter.
Like polar bears, Gyrfalcons, and White-winged Diuca-Finches (previously discussed here: https://www.facebook.com/WFVZmuseum/posts/3468854873128255), ongoing research reported in Audubon Magazine suggests that climate change poses significant threats to these poorly understood, cold-adapted mountain specialists.
Image 1: Black Rosy-finch illustrated by Robert Ridgway in a German-language publication from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Die Nord-Amerikanische Vogelwelt 1889–1891. Image from the Biodiversity Heritage Library (www.biodiversitylibrary.org), contributed by the American Museum of Natural History Library.
Image 2: Photograph of a Black-Rosy-finch by Gregory “Slobirdr” Smith [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.
Image 3: Formerly considered a single species classified under the old name Leucostictes arctoa—now reserved for the Old World species—all of the WFVZ rosy-finch material is from either the Gray-crowned or Brown-capped species, not Black Rosy-finch. Pictured is a set of Gray-crowned Rosy-finch eggs from California, from 1938, from the Western Foundation of Vertebrate Zoology collections.