On 1 February 2018, a couple noticed an unusual finch at their feeders in Crawford County, Pennsylvania. Slightly larger that a house finch, it was mostly brown with a gray cap, a black-tipped yellow bill, and pinkish wings and rump. Was it a gray-crowned rosy-finch?
The wife called her birding friend Shawn Collins for a second opinion. Yes indeed, this is a gray-crowned rosy-finch (Leucosticte tephrocotis) a bird so rare that it's the first one ever recorded in Pennsylvania.
A rare bird like this causes a stampede as soon as the news gets out, so Shawn and the homeowners made a plan. Their home is in a gated community and they wish to remain anonymous, but they want birders to see the rosy-finch from the best viewing location -- inside their living room! -- so Shawn is coordinating visits to its anonymous location. (If you want to see the gray-crowned rosy-finch, email Shawn Collins for an appointment. Click here for instructions.)
Why is this bird so rare?
Gray-crowned rosy-finches live in western North America. The interior population (this bird) nests on the tundra in the Rocky Mountains from Alaska to Montana and spends the winter from British Columbia to New Mexico, Nevada to western Nebraska.
But individual rosy-finches sometimes wander in winter as far east as northern Ohio.
Crawford County, PA is on the Ohio state line so maybe it was only a matter of time before a gray-crowned rosy-finch made it to northwestern Pennsylvania.
We're glad this one is here. Life Bird!
Thank you to the anonymous homeowners who've graciously opened their home to view the rosy-finch and thanks to Shawn Collins for coordinating the visits.
For more looks at the gray-crowned rosy-finch see Shawn Collins' Flickr album.
(photos by Shawn Collins)
p.s. Shawn tells those who plan to see it: "Please use the eBird hotspot that Geoff Malosh started for the bird. This is not the exact location due to the home owners request to keep all of her info offline. The gated community is small and the only parking allowed is in her driveway which fits 4 cars. And we are pushing it with 4! To view the bird we have to be in her living room. If you need the eBird link I can send it to you. Please no personal hotspots!!! If anyone is walking the area or what not, you will be turned into the police and will be escorted out with trespassing charges. If that happens once then this bird will be off limits! So please no one be stupid and do anything that will jeopardize folks seeing this bird. This is a very watched community and she had to let people know she will be having visitors this week and next so they were not alarmed at the cars in her driveway.
Just a side note....in each group I've brought over...the bird shows up within 2 minutes after we get there! It's like it knows!!!"