With stunning tri-colored plumage, the male rose-breasted grosbeak is one of the most beautiful and most easily identified songbirds in North America. Though not as distinctively colored, the more camouflaged female is beautiful in her own right.
Rose-Breasted Grosbeak, Cutthroat
- Bill: Conical, thick, pale
- Size: 8 inches long with 12.5-inch wingspan, large head
- Colors: Black, white, red, buff, brown
- Markings: Dimorphic species. Males have a black hood and upperparts with white patches on the shoulder and wings and a white rump. Underparts are white and a large triangular red bib is prominent on the chest. Females have brown upperparts with dark streaking, two white wing bars and a white eyebrow and malar stripe. Underparts are white or buff with fine brown streaks. Species is monotypic.
Seeds, insects, fruits, berries, flower buds
Habitat and Migration:
These songbirds prefer deciduous or mixed deciduous and coniferous forest and are regularly found in orchards and parks. Rose-breasted grosbeaks are neotropical migrants with a summer range extending throughout the Northeast and Midwest of the United States as well as the boreal forests of eastern and central Canada. In winter these birds migrate to the Caribbean, Mexico and Central and South America as far south as Peru. Vagrant birds are regularly recorded in the western United States.
These birds have a rich, sweet warbling song with melodic tones and an undulating tempo in a relatively high pitch. They will sing frequently and for long periods, even while incubating eggs. The typical call note is a high "chip" sound.
These birds are found in pairs or alone during the breeding season, though they will form small flocks in the autumn and winter. While foraging, they hop on the ground or hover glean among the leaves. Females often forage higher in trees than males.
Rose-breasted grosbeaks are monogamous birds that often rub bills in an affectionate courtship display. After the eggs are laid, both parents share incubation duties for 13-14 days, and both will feed the altricial young for an additional 9-12 days. These birds will produce 1-2 broods of 1-5 eggs each annually, and the male may care for the first brood even while the female begins incubating the second. Where the rose-breasted grosbeak's range overlaps with the closely related black-headed grosbeak, the species will hybridize.
Attracting Rose-Breasted Grosbeaks:
These birds are attracted to feeders, particularly during migration when black oil sunflower seeds are offered. Birders who plant berry bushes and fruit trees for birds and who minimize the use of insecticides will have an even greater chance of attracting these birds.
- Black-Headed Grosbeak (Pheucticus melanocephalus)
- Mistletoebird (Dicaeum hirundinaceum)
Photo – Rose-Breasted Grosbeak – Male, Female © Earl Orf Photography