Rose-breasted Grosbeak (Pheucticus ludovicianus)

Rose-breasted Grosbeak

[order] PASSERIFORMES | [family] Cardinalidae | [latin] Pheucticus ludovicianus | [UK] Rose-breasted Grosbeak | [FR] Gros-bec de Louisiane | [DE] Rosenbrust-Kernknacker | [ES] Picogrueso pechirrosado | [NL] Roodborstkardinaal


Monotypic species

Physical charateristics

Head and body similar in size to Corn Bunting but bill even larger and square-ended tail longer; at least 20% larger than medium-sized rosefinches (Carpodacus). Rather large, stout-billed, and quite long-tailed Nearctic passerine, with colourful underwing and double white wing-bar common to all plumages. Breeding male black and white, with rose-pink breast and underwing. Female and immature recall Carpodacus finch but have more strongly striped head including pale crown-centre, more heavily marked breast, pink (male) and yellow (female) underwing, and proportionately larger and paler bill.

Listen to the sound of Rose-breasted Grosbeak

[audio: Grosbeak.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 30 cm wingspan max.: 32 cm
size min.: 18 cm size max.: 21 cm
incubation min.: 13 days incubation max.: 14 days
fledging min.: 9 days fledging max.: 14 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 3  
      eggs max.: 6  


North America : East, Southeast


Breeds in temperate Nearctic wooded lowlands, deciduous or mixed, strongly favouring edges between stands of large tall trees and thickets of tall shrubs, especially where an opening is made by a stream, pond, or marsh. Also in parks, on wooded farmland, and even in villages and large gardens which provide required edge effect. Winters in South America in open rain and cloud forest, rarely below 1000 m, and in secondary growth, brush, and cultivated land, especially near streams.


A monogamous and a solitary nester. The male and female rub bills to display affection during courtship. Incubation of 13-14 days by both sexes. The 1-2 broods per year of altricial young are brooded and fed by both sexes, and stay in the nest for 9-12 days. The male may tend the young while the female begins her second brood.

Feeding habits

It forages in trees, shrubs, and on the ground and eats seeds, insects, caterpillars, tree flowers, fruits, and berries.


This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is extremely large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
Breeds in North America from north-east British Columbia and southern Mackenzie east across southern Canada to Nova Scotia, south to eastern North Dakota, eastern Kansas, southern Missouri, eastern Tennessee, and Maryland.
Accidental. Britain, Channel Islands, Ireland, France (Ouessant), Norway, Spain, Malta, Yugoslavia.
Rose-breasted Grosbeak status Least Concern


Migrant. Winters from central Mexico south to Ecuador, Colombia, and Venezuela. Peak movement early to mid-September in northernmost states, mid- to late September in mid-latitudes, and October near Gulf of Mexico coast. Few birds reach winter range before late September, with most arrivals mid-October to December. In spring, peak migration starts mid- or late April in southern states, reaching southern Canada by mid-May.
Rare autumn vagrant to west Palearctic. 24 records from Britain and Ireland up to 1995, chiefly October; all concerned immature individuals.

Distribution map

Rose-breasted Grosbeak distribution range map

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