Pine Grosbeak

Pinicola enucleator

A big boreal finch, uncommon but widespread in spruce and fir forests of the North and the high mountains. It is often absurdly tame, allowing very close approach; ironically, this sometimes makes it easy to overlook in dense coniferous forest, since it may sit motionless as a birder walks by. On those occasions when Pine Grosbeaks move south in winter, they may be more conspicuous, often feeding on buds in the bare branches of maples or other trees.
Conservation status Widespread and seems to be fairly common, but population trends would be difficult to measure.
Family Finches
Habitat Conifers; in winter, other trees. Breeds in open coniferous forest, especially of spruce and fir; despite the name, not usually in pines in summer. In winter often found in deciduous trees (especially fruiting trees such as mountain-ash or crabapple), also in groves of pines and other conifers.
A big boreal finch, uncommon but widespread in spruce and fir forests of the North and the high mountains. It is often absurdly tame, allowing very close approach; ironically, this sometimes makes it easy to overlook in dense coniferous forest, since it may sit motionless as a birder walks by. On those occasions when Pine Grosbeaks move south in winter, they may be more conspicuous, often feeding on buds in the bare branches of maples or other trees.
Photo Gallery
  • adult male
  • adult female
  • juvenile
  • juvenile male
  • adult male
Feeding Behavior

Forages mostly up in trees and shrubs. Tends to be very methodical in feeding, moving about slowly in trees while feeding on buds, seeds, and fruits. Except during the nesting season, often forages in small flocks.


Eggs

2-5, usually 4. Bluish green, spotted with brown, purple, and black. Incubation is by female only, about 13-14 days. Male often feeds female during incubation. Young: Both parents feed nestlings; during breeding season, both sexes develop throat pouches that allow them to carry more food at once. Young leave the nest about 2-3 weeks after hatching. 1 brood per year.


Young

Both parents feed nestlings; during breeding season, both sexes develop throat pouches that allow them to carry more food at once. Young leave the nest about 2-3 weeks after hatching. 1 brood per year.

Diet

Seeds, buds, berries, insects. Feeds mostly on vegetable matter, especially in winter. Major items include the seeds of conifers and other trees, buds of many kinds of trees (such as maples), berries, wild fruits (including crabapples), sometimes seeds of weeds and grasses. Also eats some insects, mainly in summer. Will come to feeders for sunflower seeds and other items.


Nesting

Male sings a mellow continuous warble to defend nesting territory. In courtship, male feeds female. Nest: Placed on horizontal branch or in fork of conifer such as spruce or fir, usually 5-15' above ground, sometimes as low as 2' in deciduous shrub or up to 25' high in tree. Nest is a bulky open cup made of twigs, weeds, rootlets, lined with fine grass, rootlets, lichens, moss.

Illustration © David Allen Sibley.
Learn more about these drawings.

Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds

Migration

Permanent resident in many areas; may withdraw from northernmost part of breeding range. Sometimes stages small "invasions" southward in winter, probably when food supplies fail in the far North.

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Migration

Permanent resident in many areas; may withdraw from northernmost part of breeding range. Sometimes stages small "invasions" southward in winter, probably when food supplies fail in the far North.

  • All Seasons - Common
  • All Seasons - Uncommon
  • Breeding - Common
  • Breeding - Uncommon
  • Winter - Common
  • Winter - Uncommon
  • Migration - Common
  • Migration - Uncommon
Songs and Calls
A 3-note whistle similar to that of Greater Yellowlegs.
Audio © Lang Elliott, Bob McGuire, Kevin Colver, Martyn Stewart and others.
Learn more about this sound collection.

How climate change could affect this bird's range

In the broadest and most detailed study of its kind, Audubon scientists have used hundreds of thousands of citizen-science observations and sophisticated climate models to predict how birds in the U.S. and Canada will react to climate change.

Learn more

Read more: climate.audubon.org
Finches Perching Birds

Pine Grosbeak

The darker the color, the more favorable the climate conditions are for survival. The outlined areas represent approximate current range for each season.

More on reading these maps.

Each map is a visual guide to where a particular bird species may find the climate conditions it needs to survive in the future. We call this the bird’s “climatic range.”

The colors indicate the season in which the bird may find suitable conditions— blue for winter, yellow for summer (breeding), and green for where they overlap (indicating their presence year-round).

The darker the shaded area, the more likely it is the bird species will find suitable climate conditions to survive there.

The outline of the approximate current range for each season remains fixed in each frame, allowing you to compare how the range will expand, contract, or shift in the future.

The first frame of the animation shows where the bird can find a suitable climate today (based on data from 2000). The next three frames predict where this bird’s suitable climate may shift in the future—one frame each for 2020, 2050, and 2080.

You can play or pause the animation with the orange button in the lower left, or select an individual frame to study by clicking on its year.

The darker the color, the more favorable the climate conditions are for survival. The outlined areas represent approximate current range for each season. More on reading these maps.
Winter
Summer

Winter Range
Summer Range
Both Seasons
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