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Pine Grosbeak

How do I Recognize It?

Pine Grosbeaks (Pinicola enucleator) are plump birds with thick, conical bills.  They are our largest finch, being similar in size to the American Robin.  Males have a pinkish-red head, breast and rump with a grey belly and dark streaks on the back.  Females and immature males are of an ochre colour on the head and rump, with grey underparts.  The tail is long and notched.  There are two wing bars on the otherwise dark wings.

Is it Migratory?

In winter, likely when food is scarce in the northern reaches of the province, irregular numbers of Pine Grosbeaks may migrate to southern Canada and northern-tier states.  Significant but sporadic irruptions have been known to occur in Manitoba.

Where does it live?

Pine Grosbeaks are permanent residents in Manitoba. They live and breed in northern boreal forests (including the treeline /tundra transition zone), in open, coniferous forests from Alaska to Newfoundland, and southward through British Columbia to Idaho.  Montane populations occur from California to Arizona.   This species also breeds in subalpine evergreen forests from eastern Asia to Scandinavia.  In Manitoba, breeding takes place from the Nunavut border southward to Thompson (with the exception of the arctic plains area north of Caribou River).   Breeding has also been recorded in the Porcupine Hills and at Aikens Lake (Atikaki Provincial Park).  Pine Grosbeaks nest in evergreen trees, raising 2 to 5 young.

Where can I see it?

In winter, Pine Grosbeaks may be found in areas such as Pinawa, Lac du Bonnet, Spruce Woods Provincial Park and Riding Mountain National Park.  Occasionally, Pine Grosbeaks can be found in Birds Hill Provincial Park and in Winnipeg.  In winter, they may be seen picking grit and salt from roadsides, foraging in trees or shrubs for seeds and buds, or frequenting bird feeders. 

Conservation Status

Because Pine Grosbeaks breed in regions difficult to access, we do not have a clear picture of their status in Manitoba.   Data from eastern North America suggests that there has been a decrease in numbers due to deforestation, which also seems to be the case in Scandinavia.

Did you know?

In breeding season, both parents grow throat pouches, allowing them to collect more food for their young.  


Photo 1: immature bird or adult female: Dennis swayze

Photo 2: adult male: wikimedia commons