Black Rosy-finch Leucosticte atrata


Justification of Red List Category
The species has been undergoing an extremely large decline over the last decades. Therefore, it is listed as Endangered.

Population justification
The population size has been estimated at >10,000 mature individuals (Rosenberg et al. 2016), which equates to >15,000 individuals in total.

Trend justification
Between 1970 and 2014, the species is suspected to have declined by 95% (Rosenberg et al. 2016). This equates to an annual decline of 6.6%, or a decline of 51.1% over 3 generations (10.5 years).

Distribution and population

This species is endemic to the U.S.A., breeding on montane and submontane tundra habitats above the treeline in Montana, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming.


The species breeds in montane and submontane tundra above the treeline at 2,600-3,600 m. It occupies edges of snowfields, glaciers and alpine lakes, cliffs or open slopes (Clement 2018). In the non-breeding season, it descends to lower altitudes, but usually along the snowline. There, it uses a variety of habitats, including roadsides and other human-modified landscapes (Johnson 2002). The main food sources are insects and seeds.


Climate change is likely to continue to threaten this species into the future, with the species potentially losing the entirety of its tundra habitat as warmer climates allow montane forests to expand and colonise higher altitudes (Rosenberg et al. 2016).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway Protected under the Migratory Bird Protection Act. Occurs in several national forests, parks, and wilderness areas.
Conservation Actions Proposed Assess the impact of climate change on the distribution range, habitat availability and population size of the species.


14-16 cm. Medium-sized, stocky finch; male with dark brown or black back, breast, neck and face; hindcrown and side of crown silver-grey; belly, rump, tail coverts and wing bend tipped pink; female similar but with a less colorful, greyer body. Voice Song a long series of chew notes, calls similar but given in rapid series and at varying pitch. Similar spp Can be confused with other rosy-finches; Grey-crowned Rosy-finch (L. tephrocotis) much lighter brown; Brown-capped Rosy-finch (L. australis) lacks the silver crown and has a much browner body.


Text account compilers
Hermes, C., Ekstrom, J., Westrip, J., Butchart, S.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Species factsheet: Leucosticte atrata. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 01/04/2023. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2023) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 01/04/2023.