Leocosticte tephrocotis tephrocotis, L. t. littoralis

Status:  Rare regular winter visitor west.

Documentation:  Specimen: tephrocotis, UNSM ZM7133, 15 Feb 1896 Harrison, Sioux Co.

Taxonomy: There are six subspecies, in two groups (Macdougall-Shackleton et al 2020): Gray-cheeked Group consists of griseonucha, breeding and wintering on the Aleutian Islands, umbrina, resident on the Pribilof Islands, and littoralis, breeding from south-central Alaska to northern California, wintering in southern part of breeding range, extending east to central Montana, western Nevada, northern Utah, and central New Mexico, accidental east to Minnesota and Maine, and the Brown-cheeked Group tephrocotis, breeding in interior mountains of Alaska, Yukon, British Columbia, western Alberta, and northwest Montana, wintering from southern British Columbia east to southwest Manitoba and south to northeast California, Nevada, Utah, northern New Mexico, with records east to Iowa, wallowa, breeding  Wallowa Mountains of northeast Oregon, wintering south to central-west Nevada, and dawsoni, resident in the Sierra Nevada and White Mountains of California.

According to Rapp et al (1958), the brown-cheeked subspecies tephrocotis winters in Nebraska.  The gray-cheeked subspecies littoralis (“Hepburn’s Rosy-Finch”) was first reported in winter 2000-2001, when at least 13 were found in Sioux Co with flocks of tephrocotis (Silcock 2001); its winter range is similar to that of tephrocotis (Macdougall-Shackleton et al 2020). Recent reports of littoralis are of 50-60 near Harrison, Sioux Co 25-27 Oct 1984 (Green 1985), two wintering in Sioux Co 2008-2009, one at Toadstool Geologic Park, Sioux Co 9 Feb 2015, and 25 of 55 rosy-finches on Henry Road, Sioux Co 22 Dec 2019. Two were with 110 rosy-finches near Sand Creek Road but barely into Dawes Co 28 Nov 2020.

Winter:  Oct 25-27 (Green 1985), 26,29 <<<>>> Mar 20,27, Apr 2

Fall arrival is in late Oct and departure in Mar. There is an early report 1 Oct 1977 Sioux Co and a late report 16 Apr 1989 Sioux Co.

Occasionally large flocks occur in western Nebraska, such as 300+ at Wind Springs Ranch, Sioux Co, winter 2000-2001, 300 near Crawford, Dawes Co 10 December 1910 (Zimmer 1911) and up to 2000 in northern Sioux Co 25-27 October 1984 (Green 1985), but some Nebraska sightings are of individuals with flocks of Pine Siskins and American Goldfinches (Rosche 1982, Hughson 1990). A flock of about 100 was near Whitney, Dawes Co 29 Dec 1996, and up to 75 wintered at a Chadron, Dawes Co feeder 1996-97.

Most reports are from regular roosting sites on rocky buttes in Sioux, Dawes, and Scotts Bluff Cos, with these few elsewhere: 26-28 Oct 1972 Perkins Co, 6 Dec 1983 Lincoln Co, 30 on 31 Dec 2019 on Wright’s Gap Road, Banner Co, 1 Jan 1984 Cheyenne Co (Wittrock 1984), 2 Jan 2016 one on Lake McConaughy CBC, Keith Co, 3-4 Jan 2009 one videographed in Ogallala on Lake McConaughy CBC (Brogie 2009), six on 3 Feb 2001 southwest Cheyenne Co, a pair of specimens, HMM 22176, taken at Oshkosh, Garden Co 7 Feb 1922 (Swenk, Notes After 1925), and a specimen, UNSM ZM7131, collected at Oshkosh 11 Feb 1922 (Rosche 1994).


HMM: Hastings Municipal Museum
UNSM: University of Nebraska State Museum


Photograph of a Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch in Dawes Co 29 Dec 1996 by John Sullivan.

Literature Cited

Hughson, H.K. 1990. Gray-Crowned Rosy-Finches. NBR 58: 56.

Rapp, W.F. Jr., J.L.C. Rapp, H.E. Baumgarten, and R.A. Moser. 1958. Revised checklist of Nebraska birds. Occasional Papers 5, Nebraska Ornithologists’ Union, Crete, Nebraska, USA.

Green, R.C. 1985. Gray-Crowned Rosy-Finches. NBR 53: 44.

MacDougall-Shackleton, S.A., R.E. Johnson, and T.P. Hahn. 2020. Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch (Leucosticte tephrocotis), version 1.0. In Birds of the World (A. F. Poole and F. B. Gill, Editors). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA.

Rosche, R.C. 1982. Birds of northwestern Nebraska and southwestern South Dakota, an annotated checklist. Cottonwood Press, Crawford, Nebraska, USA.

Rosche, R.C. 1994. Birds of the Lake McConaughy area and the North Platte River valley, Nebraska.  Published by the author, Chadron, Nebraska, USA.

Silcock, W.R. 2001. Winter Field Report, December 2000- February 2001. NBR 69: 2-18.

Swenk, M.H. Notes after 1925. Critical notes on specimens in Brooking, Black, and Olson collections made subsequent to January 1, 1925. Handwritten manuscript in the Nebraska Ornithologists’ Union Archives, University of Nebraska State Museum, Lincoln, Nebraska, USA.

Wittrock, G. 1984. Rosy Finch. NBR 52: 68.

Zimmer, J.T. 1911. Some notes on the winter birds of Dawes County. Proceedings Nebraska Ornithologists’ Union 5: 19-30.

Recommended Citation

Silcock, W.R., and J.G. Jorgensen.  2021.  Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch (Leocosticte tephrocotis). In Birds of Nebraska — Online.

Birds of Nebraska – Online

Updated 14 Jan 2021