Pine Grosbeak male 3Jan02 972r.jpg (82303 bytes) 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.

 Pine Grosbeak male 3Jan02 970br.jpg (112459 bytes) Pine Grosbeak male 3Jan02 975ar.jpg (97753 bytes) 


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.

Pine Grosbeak in crab apple 4Dec01 682r.jpg (82775 bytes) Pine Grosbeak in crab apple 4Dec01 687r.jpg (88535 bytes)   Pine Grosbeak female in crabapple Beam Hill 1Dec01 500ar.jpg (115565 bytes) Pine Grosbeak female Keith Lane 30Dec01 425r.jpg (90885 bytes) Pine Grosbeak female Keith Lane 30Dec01 439r.jpg (104783 bytes) Pine Grosbeak female Keith Lane 30Dec01 443r.jpg (102586 bytes) Pine Grosbeak female Keith Lane 3Jan02 490r.jpg (81148 bytes) Pine Grosbeak immature male 11Dec01 454r.jpg (102322 bytes) Pine Grosbeak 11Dec01 569r.jpg (81205 bytes)

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.

 Pine Grosbeak in crab apple 4Dec01 643r.jpg (57520 bytes) Pine Grosbeak in crab apple 4Dec01 644r.jpg (56479 bytes)

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.

Crab apples eaten by Pine Grosbeaks 22Jan02 159ar.jpg (77918 bytes) Crab apples eaten by Pine Grosbeaks 22Jan02 162ar.jpg (76662 bytes)


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Revised: January 22, 2002.