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Pine Grosbeak

Pinicola enucleator ORDER: PASSERIFORMES FAMILY: FRINGILLIDAE

IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

These plump finches dwarf every other finch in the trees and nearly every bird that lands on the feeder. The grayish bodies of Pine Grosbeaks are decked out in pinkish reds on males and yellows on females. They easily crush seeds and nip off tree buds and needles with their thick and stubby bill. They breed in open spruce, fir, and pine forests, but they drop in on feeders in winter, especially in the East when they sometimes irrupt outside of their normal range.

Songs

Males and very occasionally females sing a clear flutelike warble from the tops of trees. Their song is reminiscent of a Purple Finch, but it is slower and sounds richer and less harsh. Their warbling song rises and falls for around 2–5 seconds. Each song is made up of numerous notes that they rearrange on occasion, sometimes including imitations of other bird's songs. Captive birds in an outdoor aviary adopted parts of the songs of Carolina Wrens and Northern Cardinals.

Calls

  • song, call
     
  • Courtesy of Macaulay Library
    © Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

Song is a sequence of clear, warbling, flute-like notes. Flight calls vary geographically, but can sound like "tee-tee-tew," resembling calls of Greater Yellowlegs.

Other Sounds

The call they give in flight differs across their range. In the eastern part of their range their call resembles the 3 quick and harsh notes of a Greater Yellowlegs, while in the western part of their range it sounds more like a slurred metallic whistle. But even within the same region, the calls of one group of Pine Grosbeaks differ from another group. These flight calls help individuals keep track of each other.

Search the Macaulay Library online archive for more sounds and videos

Backyard Tips

Pine Grosbeaks frequently visit feeders especially in the northern states during the winter. Because of their size a large tube feeder, platform feeder, or large hopper is best. Fill one of these feeders with black oil sunflower seeds or hulled sunflower seeds. Learn more at Project FeederWatch.

Find This Bird

There are two ways to find Pine Grosbeaks: look for them on their breeding grounds in the West or in Canada; or wait for them to come to sunflower seed feeders in winter in the northern states. During summer, look in open spruce and pine forests and listen for their rich, warbling singing from treetops from mid-May through early August. Their size and sluggish behavior make finding one in a tree easier than finding nearly any other finch. In winter, they frequent bird feeders, but you may also be able to find a group of grosbeaks eating grit along roadsides near open evergreen forests.

Get Involved

Join Project FeederWatch and tell us how many Pine Grosbeaks you see at your feeder. Learn more and help contribute to valuable information to science at Project FeederWatch.

Count the number of Pine Grosbeaks in your yard during the Great Backyard Bird Count and help us learn more about the distribution and abundance of birds. Find out more and sign up at Great Backyard Bird Count.

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