Bird’s ID – Rose-breasted Grosbeak

Rose-breasted Grosbeak


The Rose-breasted Grosbeak (Pheucticus ludovicianus) is a large, seed-eating grosbeak in the cardinal family (Cardinalidae). It is primarily a foliage gleaner. It breeds in cool-temperate North America, migrating to tropical America in winter.

Adult birds are 18–22 cm (7.1–8.7 in) long, span 29–33 cm (11–13 in) across the wings and weigh 35–65 g (1.2–2.3 oz). Grosbeaks measured during migration in the West Indies averaged 43 g (1.5 oz), while those banded in Pennsylvania average about 45 g (1.6 oz). Very little sexual dimorphism in size is seen; females were found to be marginally smaller in standard measurements, but in some seasons were marginally heavier than males when banded in Pennsylvania. At all ages and in both sexes, the beak is dusky horn-colored, and the feet and eyes are dark.

The first birds leave the breeding grounds as early as August, while the last ones do not return until mid-late May. In general, however, they migrate south in late September or in October, and return in late April or early May. It appears as if they remain on their breeding grounds longer today than they did in the early 20th century, when migrants were more commonly seen in May and August than in April or September. The rose-breasted grosbeak occurs as a very rare vagrant in western Europe. During breeding it is fairly territorial; in winter, it roams the lands in groups of about a handful of birds, and sometimes in larger flocks of a dozen or more.

The rose-breasted grosbeak forages in shrubs or trees for insects, seeds and berries, also catching insects in flight and occasionally eating nectar. It usually keeps to the treetops, and only rarely can be seen on the ground. In the winter quarters, they can be attracted into parks, gardens, and possibly even to bird feeders by fruit like Trophis racemosa. Other notable winter food includes jacaranda seeds and the fruits of the introduced busy Lizzy (Impatiens walleriana). In grosbeaks from the north-central United States and southern Canada.

The Rose-breasted Grosbeak is # 219 on my “lifer” list.


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© HJ Ruiz- Avian101

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