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Sandia Crest Rosy-Finch Update (Refresh Browser for Latest Content)
Filed under: General, Birding & Outdoors, NM & SW US, Sandia Crest
Posted by: Ken @ 8:11 am

April 15, 2009: The flag has stopped waving, as the flocks of rosy-finches have departed. Small flocks of about a dozen, with all three species and both races of the Gray-crowned, were present through March 31, and 1-6 were around up to April 8, when the feeders were taken down.  Be sure to view the BANDING  SLIDESHOW on the “Sightings” page. American Three-toed Woodpeckers are being seen at the Crest. Spring migrants are arriving en masse. Check out the links in for more information about birding the Sandias. Refresh your browser, as this page may update frequently. Also, see the message about the new Rosy-Finch FORUM.

Black Rosy-Finch (Leucosticte atrata)

The influx of the Coastal (Hepburn’s) race of Gray-crowned Rosy-finches peaked in the winter of 2006-07, when the team banded 104 birds (representing over 13% of all rosy-finches banded that winter). The previous winter marked the first captures of the Hepburn’s race (5 birds). Last winter the percentage of Hepburn’s decreased to 29 birds (6%). This winter, as of February 8, they represent only only 6 of the 221 captures (less than 3%). Little seems to be known about the fluctuations in species mix from one winter to another. We have seen unusual patterns of abundance in the Brown-capped species as well, both at Sandia Crest and in Estes Park,Colorado. This is an area ripe for research into possible factors, whether they may be related to climate fluctuations, local weather or habitat changes on breeding grounds or migratory routes, food supply, population pressures, and so on. Do they correlate with the irruptive behavior of other northern finches? The spreadsheets at this link provide day-by-day banding statistics, compiled since 2004. Their analysis may provide a starting point for further research.


Click for Cedar Crest, New Mexico Forecast
Temperature at Sandia Crest (10,678′) is usually about 11 degrees
cooler than at this Weather Underground station in Cedar Crest (7100′). Click on icon for full Sandia Mountain weather outlook. Refresh your browser, as this page may be updated frequently.


We have added a rosy-finch community FORUM to the Web suite. This feature will permit all who have an interest in rosy-finches and year-round birding in the Sandia Mountains to directly post current observations, banding reports, photos, research updates, requests for information or assistance in planning a visit. We invite all rosy-finch observers and researchers world-wide to utilize this new means of communication to exchange information. ENTER THE FORUM HERE, TO VISIT OR TO POST.

Notes from Feeder Project Coordinators:

Date: April 15, 2009
From: Fran Lusso and Dave Weaver
Subj: Last report of the season

Hi Ken,
Well, Dave went up to the Crest today (26 degrees and windy) and brought the log book and the remaining seed down.  There were no reported sightings since last week’s log (even though we got more snow over the weekend!) so we’ve shut down for the season. 
Dave reports large numbers of robins and a standoff between a ground squirrel and an Abert’s squirrel…

Hope all is well down there.
Fran & Dave


to 6 rosy-finches persisted through April 8, the day the
feeders were taken down. In past years, a few have been seen up to the end of
the third week of April.Ken]

Date: April 9, 2009
From: Dave Weaver

Hi Ken,

went up to the Crest yesterday.  Spring is almost here.  It was in the
mid-30s with a building warm wind.  We did get a little bit of snow
last night, much less than an inch, and thunderstorms are predicted for
this weekend.  The air feels like spring, if you know what I mean.

took down the feeders as planned, but left some seed and the Log up
there for at least another week.  The Crest House staff report seeing
no more than 6 finches at a time, and usually only one or two.  And
even those are seen very infrequently.  So, it looks like the season is
officially over.

Anyway, I have attached a Log Update, probably the penultimate one for this year.  Hope all is well!

Best, Dave

= = = = = =
we have stopped flying the rosy-finch flag, 3-12 stragglers have
continued to show up at the feeders through yesterday, March 31. Please
keep an eye out, as a few often persist through the first week of
April. Larger flocks are still present at Taos Ski Valley. Ken]

Date: April 1, 2009
From: Dave Weaver

Hi Ken,

just returned from the Crest.  The road is clear and there is just a
bit of snow left in the woods from last week’s snow.  A bit more snow
may fall tonight and perhaps this weekend, but not enough to restore
snow cover.  It is still winter up there though - 14 degrees, overcast
and windy.

As you will see in the Log Update, the Crest House
staff are still seeing a few rosy finches, but very sporadically and in
very, very small counts.  We left the feeders up until next week, but
for visitation purposes the season does seem to be over.  We almost
certainly will take down the feeders next week.

Hope all is well!  Dave

= = = = = =
Date: March 25, 2009
From: Dave Weaver and Fran Lusso

Hi Ken,

We are back from the Galapagos - fantastic trip!  We went up to the Crest today and so have attached a Log Update.  There is almost no snow left on the mountain and the Crest House staff say that they have not seen a Rosy Finch since Sunday [March 22].  Nancy and the Banding crew saw a very few on Sunday.  We saw none today.  So, if the lack of sightings continues, we plan to take down the feeders and close out the season next week, probably Wednesday.

There may be a light snow tomorrow and Friday (3 - 6 inches expected on top), so perhaps the finches will come out of the woods.  But we think they are already gone for northern climes.

Link to Latest Sightings Log

Hope all is well!

Dave and Fran

Latest Report from Rosy-Finch Banding Team:

[The rosies appear to have departed. See for the normal departure dates of flocks and stragglers in previous winters. On March 15, the banding team appeared to have reached the saturation point, as nearly all the rosy-finches had bands on them.  Ken]

= = = = =

March 22, 2009
From: Nancy and Steve Cox

Hi all,

We did not capture any Rosy-Finches today.  We only saw 2 - 3 Blacks, 1 Gray-crowned (interior) and 1 Brown-capped and they spent very little time at the feeders.

We will be calling Gene [Romero, Resident Manager of Sandia Crest House Gift Shop and Restaurant] and his crew before next Sunday to see if there are any Rosy-Finches around.  However, this is probably our last day.  We will let Ken Schneider know one way or the other.

[They followed up, on March 27, with this note:]

Hi all,

As mentioned in the last update, last Sunday was the last day for this season.  Dave and Fran emailed that no Rosies were seen when they were up this week.  So, even though it snowed last night and today on the Sandias the field work is officially over for the season.

Many, Many thanks for all that helped out this year.

Nancy and Steve

[Of interest, we heard from Gil Bachmann, Manager of the Kandahar Condos in Taos Ski Valley, who said (on March 27):]

I was getting ready to write you Several weeks back, saying I’d not
seen the flock of rosy finches for a while, just a few stragglers. 
But then we got a couple big snows, and they are back in full force.

Yes, I’ll let you know when they leave for good.  15 inches of new snow
and 7 degrees this morning — I think they may stay a while. 


= = = = =
[Laurel Ladwig’s friend, Deanna Nichols, provided the photos of the rosy-finch banding operation, taken in early February. They are included in her slide show on the Rosy-Finch Sightings page. Ken]

Other Sightings
From NM RBA:

Bill Wittman on January 9 had a female AMERICAN THREE-TOED WOODPECKER and two GOLDEN-CROWNED KINGLETS at the Crest.  John Parmeter saw the THREE-TOED WOODPECKER on January 11 just below the trail to the Kiwanis Meadows. On Feb 22, many observers from the Audubon woodpecker quest saw the THREE-TOED WOODPECKER.

Paa-Ko Golf Course Webcam view on March 27, 2009. Click for current view.
Paa-Ko Golf Course March 27 2009

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