Thursday, May 15, 2014

Rosy-finches at Discovery Park

Every winter from December through February a mixed flock of Gray-crowned and Black Rosy-finches come down out of the higher elevation forests where they spend the rest of the year and hang out in the old cliff swallow nests near Discovery Park. Even though they bread in Idaho, their habitat preferences during the breeding season make them extremely difficult to find, so their short stay down here close to town provides a nice opportunity to add them to your year list. Check out our post from last year to see directions to this location.

In the picture below, the red circle on the cliff face indicates the best place to focus on to find the rosy-finches. A scope would certainly be helpful, since there’s really no safe place to get closer to these birds.

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Rosy-finch roosting locations indicated by the red circle, near Discovery Park, Ada County. February 16, 2014.

When you get dialed in on the location, you’ll start seeing dozens of cliff swallow nests. If you’re seeing the nests, you’re at the right spot. Just be patient and wait for some movement to catch your eye, and you’ll be able to track down the rosy-finches.

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Cliff Swallow nests near Discovery Park, Ada County. February 16, 2014.

The rosy-finches seem to spend most of the day elsewhere, but return each afternoon about half an hour before sunset to roost for the night. Some years the flocks are larger or smaller. This year there seems to be very few. On this trip, I just had a small handful of Gray-crowned Rosy-finches, and one or two Black Rosy-finches. Due to the extreme distance and poor sunset lighting, I actually just kept video running on the cliff face and then took a few screen shots to document a couple of the birds that passed through my view.

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Gray-crowned Rosy-finch near Discovery Park, Ada County. February 16, 2014.

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Gray-crowned Rosy-finch near Discovery Park, Ada County. February 16, 2014.

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