Pine Grosbeak (Pinicola enucleator)
All photos taken in Dryden, NY in January 2002 by Jay and Kevin McGowan, and all are © Kevin J. McGowan. Photos were taken with an Olympus D-450 digital camera through a Swarovski HD80 spotting scope, or a Kowa TSN2 scope.
The Pine Grosbeak is the largest of the "winter finches," averaging 8 - 10" long (20-25 cm), and weighing 53 to 78 g. They are plump, heavy-chested birds with a relatively long, moderately notched tail.
Adult males are varying shades of pink or red on the head, breast, sides, back, and rump; with blackish-brown flight feathers; two white wing-bars; and white edges on the tertials and secondaries. The underparts are grayish.
Adult and immature females are slightly smaller than the male, and are entirely gray below and on the back. The head and rump are yellowish to reddish bronze. Immature males usually are indistinguishable from females until their second year when they molt in reddish feathers, but some young males have some red or orange feathers in the body plumage which females apparently lack (Pyle 1997, Identification Guide to North American Birds). Females average duller (especially on the crown and rump) than males and have a lighter russet tinge to the head or lighter olive tinge to the breast than males (Pyle 1997). The color of the head and body is often golden orange or reddish bronze in males, in contrast to golden yellow of the adult female, and the chin is often buffier or more brown-gray than in adults females (Adkisson, 1999, The Birds of North America, No. 456).
I'm not sure any of these birds can be sexed confidently.
Oddly enough, Pine Grosbeaks seem to eat the SEEDS of the crabapples, not the fruit itself. Their messy eating style suggests this to be true, as evidenced by the pictures below.
I finally stopped and looked at the fruit tree, and sure enough, most of the fruit up on the top of the tree had been bitten and "enucleated," but still had flesh hanging on the tree.
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