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Pine Grosbeak


IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

One of the larger members of its family, the Pine Grosbeak is a bird of the boreal forests, found across northern Eurasia and North America, and south into the mountains of western Canada and the United States. A large, unwary finch, it makes periodic winter irruptions into southern Canada and northern United States. It is the largest and rarest of the "winter finches."

At a GlanceHelp

Both Sexes
7.9–9.8 in
20–25 cm
13 in
33 cm
Other Names
  • Durbec des sapins (French)
  • Camachuelo picogrueso (Spanish)

Cool Facts

  • The tameness and slow-moving behavior of the Pine Grosbeak gave rise to local name in Newfoundland of "mope."
  • Winter flocks may stay near a tree with abundant fruit until all of it is consumed.
  • A breeding adult Pine Grosbeak develops pouches in the floor of its mouth for carrying food to its young.
  • During most of the year, 99% of diet is vegetable matter, especially buds, seeds, and fruits of spruce, pine, juniper, elm, maple, mountain ash, apple, and crabapple. It feeds insects and spiders to its young, though, often mixed with plant foods. It drinks water or eats snow daily.
  • The oldest recorded Pine Grosbeak was a male, and at least 9 years, 9 months old when he was found in Quebec in 1970. He had been banded in Connecticut in 1961.


Open Woodland

  • Breeds in open coniferous forests.
  • Wintering areas determined by food availability, so found in wider variety of habitats, including urban areas.



Seeds, buds, fruit, some insects.


Nesting Facts
Clutch Size
2–5 eggs
Egg Description
Pale blue with darker dots and markings
Condition at Hatching
Naked and helpless.
Nest Description

Open cup nest in tree

Nest Placement



Foliage Gleaner

Eats fruits by biting through and discarding the pulp and crushing the seed. Insects caught by clumsy flycatching. Eats sunflower seeds at feeders in parts of range (rarely comes to feeders in other parts of range).Found in flocks in winter; strongly territorial in breeding season. Distinctive call note often given in flight.


status via IUCN

Least Concern

Pine Grosbeak populations can be difficult to assess, however they appear to have declined between 1966 and 2014 according to the North American Breeding Bird Survey—with the largest decline of up to 99% in New Brunswick populations during that time. Partners in Flight estimates a global breeding population of 6 million birds, with 18% spending part of the year in the U.S., and 34% in Canada. The species rates a 9 out of 20 on the Continental Concern Score and is a U.S.-Canada Stewardship species. Pine Grosbeak is not on the 2014 State of the Birds Watch List.


Range Map Help

Pine Grosbeak Range Map
View dynamic map of eBird sightings

Backyard Tips

This species often comes to bird feeders. Find out more about what this bird likes to eat and what feeder is best by using the Project FeederWatch Common Feeder Birds bird list.

You Might Also Like

Snowbird Season. Story and photographs in Living Bird magazine.

All About Birds blog, Here’s What to Feed Your Summer Bird Feeder Visitors, July 11, 2014.



Or Browse Bird Guide by Family, Name or Shape
bird image Blue-winged Warbler by Brian Sullivan

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