Monday, September 12, 2011

Brown-Capped Rosy Finch

After climbing Mt. Sherman outside of Leadville, Colorado in August, Sam and I stopped to take a rest at the Sherman/Sheridan saddle at about 13,100 feet. I ate a little and drank some water and Sam had a bird land near him which was quite bold. 
It walked within a foot of him and stayed with him for about ten minutes while he rested. I tried to get a good photo of it, but it kept shying away from me. Because of my blistered toes, we decided to leave the trail and go straight down the mountain in a spot that allowed me to shuffle down sideways, saving the ends of my big toes which were very sore. This bird continued to follow Sam down the mountain for about 10 or 15 minutes. 
It would land and walk, then fly in circles and land near Sam and walk again. It must have done that five or six times and followed as as we dropped about 500 feet of elevation. 
I have been searching bird books and the internet trying to figure out what kind of bird it is and I think it may be a brown-capped rosy finch. They are found in the high mountains of Wyoming, Colorado and New Mexico, but their very restricted range is almost exclusively the high peaks of Colorado. They are considered rare in Wyoming and rare to uncommon in New Mexico. They breed at a higher elevation than any other North American bird and stay at high elevations even in deeply negative temperatures and heavy snows. Females are duller and and often have little evidence of a crown patch. Juveniles are a drab gray-brown all over, which seems to match this specimen. 
Because of the difficulty in studying this bird at high altitudes, not a lot is known about it. Because of its limited range and drop in population, there is some conservation concern for it. 


  1. Bob
    This is Russ Cannon's son Rich. I am planning a campout for this weekend at arrow canyon. Looking at google earth i found road access that will take you directly to the back end so you can start the hike at the dam. It has been several years since i was there and i am curious if it is possible to climb down that damn or if i would need to bring climbing gear? I was just reading your post about George Q passing through there, i have really enjoyed your research!


  2. Rich,
    It has been a long time since I was there, but I believe I made it to the top from one side and that you would probably need arope to make it safely down the other side. I would love to hear about your experience. Bob

  3. Actually i have tried to take picture of a bird but is pretty hard because they always run... i have never tried to capture one because it will not be very professional because the bird will not be in it's natural state, but i will try to buy a new camera.