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Pine Grosbeak - BirdForum Opus

P. e. enucleator, adult male
Photo by the late Jim Wood
Finland, January 2011
Pinicola enucleator


18·5–25·5 cm

  • A huge finch
  • Large, conical bill with curved upper mandible
  • Long, forked tail

Adult males

  • Deep rose red on the head, face, rump, and underparts
  • Back and scapulars pink mottled with black
  • Wings and tail black; the wings with two distinct white wing bars
  • White edges on the tertial feathers
  • Lower belly is whitish
  • Thighs, undertail coverts, and flanks, to some extent, are grey
  • Legs and feet are dark brown or black
P. e. enucleator, female; note extensive orange
Photo by brianhstone
Oulu, Finland, February 2007

Adult females

  • Lack any pink
  • Grey above with a variable amount of orange or yellowish on head, rump, and body
  • Lores and cheeks are greyish
  • Chin, throat, and breast are light grey
  • Yellowish tints on the lower throat and breast
  • Wings and tail are dark brown and show two white wing bars
  • Flight feathers have white edges

Immatures similar to adult females, though some immature males develop more red than yellow-orange

Similar Species

Great Rosefinch is almost as large, and overlaps marginally in the northern Altai Mountains of central Asia; it differs most obvously in lacking the white wingbars. Also compare with the much smaller White-winged Crossbill.


Northern boreal Europe, Russia, and North America.

  • Europe: breeds in northern Scandinavia and northern Russia; winter visitor a short way further south, very rarely as far southwest as Britain and the Netherlands.
  • Asia: breeds right across the northern taiga belt, again wintering to a little further south.
  • North America: breeds in Alaska, much of Canada and along Rocky Mountains and Sierra Nevada in western USA; winter visitor south to north-western and north-eastern USA.


P. e. leucura, adult male
Photo by kegressy
Algonquin Prov. Park, Ontario, Canada, February 2005

Recent genetic data indicate that the birds in Eurasia and North America are diverged enough to be different species[3]; there are also small plumage differences, particularly in females.


Nine to eleven subspecies are recognised in the two groups[1][2]:

  • Eurasia (Pinicola enucleator sensu stricto) — females with yellow / orange extending onto mantle, breast and flanks
    • P. e. enucleator: northern Scandinavia to Russia and western Siberia (Yenisey River)
    • P. e. pacata: Siberia (east of Yenisey Rier) to Altai Mountains, Mongolia and Manchuria
    • P. e. kamtschatkensis: far-eastern Siberia (Anadyr River) to Kamchatka
    • P. e. sakhalinensis: Sakhalin, Kuril Islands and high mountains of Hokkaido
P. e. leucura, female; note limited orange
Photo by CurtMorgan
Glens Falls, New York, December 2012
  • North America (if split, becomes Pinicola leucura) — females greyer, with yellow / orange usually restricted to head and rump, only rarely on breast
    • P. e. flammula: southern Alaska to northwestern British Columbia; winters to north-western US
    • P. e. carlottae: islands and coasts from Haida Gwaii to Vancouver Island
    • P. e. montana: interior central British Columbia to Rocky Mountains of south-western US
    • P. e. californica: Sierra Nevada mountains (eastern California)
    • P. e. leucura: breeds in the boreal zone of North America, from Alaska east to southern Quebec and Newfoundland; resident, but some disperse south in winter


Breeds in coniferous and mixed woods, pond and stream edges, and the edges of open fields and marshes. In winter, more often in mixed forests, woods and gardens with abundant berry-bearing trees, particularly rowan (Sorbus).


Pine Grosbeaks are huge compared to most other finches. Here, a male with a Common Redpoll
Photo by Tammie
Northern Ontario, Canada, November 2003


Includes the buds of many trees, including maple, birch, apple, rowan, poplar, and willow and the fruit of rowan, whitebeam, crab apple, barberry, and the seeds of birch, pine, and spruce trees. Also grass and weed seeds and various insects, and readily takes sunflower seeds on birdtables in winter.


A monogamous species. They breed between May and July, building an open cup nest in a tree. The clutch consists of 2-5 pale blue eggs with dark spots.


Song: Similar to Purple Finch's song, but it varies more in pitch and has more distinct, less-slurred notes.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, S. M. Billerman, T. A. Fredericks, J. A. Gerbracht, D. Lepage, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2021. The eBird/Clements checklist of Birds of the World: v2021. Downloaded from https://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Del Hoyo, J, A Elliott, and D Christie, eds. 2010. Handbook of the Birds of the World. Volume 15: Weavers to New World Warblers. Barcelona: Lynx Edicions. ISBN 978-8496553682
  3. Thread in Taxonomy forum discussing recent results relevant to taxonomy of Pine Grosbeak (from post 5 onwards)
  4. BirdSource
  5. Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive (retrieved November 2014)
  6. All About Birds

Recommended Citation

External Links

GSearch checked for 2020 platform.