The birding populace of the US can be divided into those who have had the good fortune of seeing a trifecta of rosy finches and those who have not.
There are 7 species in the mountain finch family which occur in Asia and North America. Of these, the following 3, occur in North America:
- Black Rosy Finch
- Grey-crowned Rosy Finch; and,
- Brown-capped Rosy Finch
The grey-crowned is the only member of the trifecta that is not a national endemic --instead of being restricted to the Central mountains of the US like the others -- it ranges widely in the Western US, from Alaska, Western Canada, through the Northwest, to the Rockies.
The most uncooperative of the lot was the brown capped and while I think there's one in this flock, it will require an additional observation opportunity to reveal it in its full brilliance.
Adding to their mystical status is the fact that rosy finches are one of our least studied birds with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology reporting that only 3 researchers have seen the nest sites of the Black Rosy Finch (as of 2002).
Other birds seen in the area included dark-eyed junco ("slate colored" race) and Stellar's Jay.
Nonetheless, Sandia Crest, at a rarefied elevation of over 10,000 feet, where every 3 breaths give the oxygen content of one breath taken in Florida, has the power to leave the observer breathless in more ways than one: especially, when in the company of the charismatic rosy finches.