Pine Grosbeak

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Pine Grosbeak
Adult male
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Fringillidae
Genus: Pinicola
Species: P. enucleator
Binomial name
Pinicola enucleator
(Linnaeus, 1758)
Breeding range of P. enucleator

The Pine Grosbeak (Pinicola enucleator) is a large member of the true finch family, Fringillidae. It is found in coniferous woods across Alaska, the western mountains of the United States, Canada, and in subarctic Fennoscandia and Siberia. During winter, pine grosbeaks in parts of North America move southward, bringing them as far south as the upper Midwest and New England in the United States, but sometimes even further south, especially during an irruption. This species is a very rare vagrant to temperate Europe; in all of Germany for example, not more than 4 individuals and often none at all have been recorded each year since 1980.[2]


This species is one of the largest species in the true finch family. It measures from 20 to 25.5 cm (7.9 to 10.0 in) in length and weighs from 52 to 78 g (1.8 to 2.8 oz), with an average mass of 56.4 g (1.99 oz). Among standard measurements, the wing chord is 10.2 to 11.6 cm (4.0 to 4.6 in), the tail is 7.8 to 9.5 cm (3.1 to 3.7 in), the bill is 1.4 to 1.65 cm (0.55 to 0.65 in) and the tarsus is 1.9 to 2.3 cm (0.75 to 0.91 in).[3][4][5] Adults have a long forked black tail, black wings with white wing bars and a large bill. Adult males have a rose-red head, back and rump. Adult females are olive-yellow on the head and rump and grey on the back and underparts. Young birds have a less contrasting plumage overall, appearing shaggy when they moult their colored head plumage.

Its voice is geographically variable, and includes a whistled pui pui pui or chii-vli. The song is a short musical warble.


The breeding habitat of the Pine Grosbeak is coniferous forests. They nest on a horizontal branch or in a fork of a conifer. This bird is a permanent resident through most of its range; in the extreme north or when food sources are scarce, they may migrate further south.

The Pine Grosbeak forages in trees and bushes. It mainly eats seeds, buds, berries and insects. Outside of the nesting season, it often feeds in flocks.

Systematics and evolution[edit]

The Pine Grosbeak, together with its Himalayan relative the Crimson-browed Finch (P. subhimachala), represents an ancient divergence from the same stock that also gave rise to the true bullfinches (Pyrrhula). The Pinicola lineage diverged from its relatives perhaps a dozen million years ago, during the Clarendonian faunal stage of the mid-Miocene.[6][7]

At the same time, the evolutionary radiation of Pyrrhula throughout Eurasia and the Holarctic expansion of the closely related Leucosticte mountain finches and relatives began. These genera evolved in the interior of Asia, and thus the original Pinicola stock was probably already a conifer forest bird living to the north of the Himalayas. The separation of the modern species is likely the result of climate change which displaced Pinicola habitat to subarctic northern and subalpine Himalayan regions. Possibly, the ancestors of the North American Pine Grosbeaks were wind-blown individuals which arrived via the northern Pacific, as the Bering Land Bridge was generally submerged in the Late Miocene.[6][7]

According to studies by Arnaiz-Villena et al., all birds belonging to the genus Pyrrhula have a common ancestor: Pinicola enucleator.[7][8]


  1. ^ BirdLife International (2012). "Pinicola enucleator". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013. 
  2. ^ Töpfer, Till (2007). "Nachweise seltener Vogeltaxa (Aves) in Sachsen aus der ornithologischen Sammlung des Museums für Tierkunde Dresden" [Records of rare bird taxa (Aves) in Saxony from the ornithological collection of the Zoological Museum Dresden] (PDF). Faunistische Abhandlungen (in German with English abstract) 26 (3): 63–101. 
  3. ^ CRC Handbook of Avian Body Masses by John B. Dunning Jr. (Editor). CRC Press (1992), ISBN 978-0-8493-4258-5.
  4. ^ Clement, Peter; Harris, Alan; Davis, John (1993). Finches and Sparrows: an Identification Guide. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-03424-9. 
  5. ^ Adkisson, C. S. (1999). "Pine grosbeak (Pinicola enucleator)". In Poole, A. The Birds of North America Online. Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology. 
  6. ^ a b Marten, Jill A. & Johnson, Ned K. (1986). "Genetic relationships of North American cardueline finches". Condor 88 (4): 409–420. doi:10.2307/1368266. 
  7. ^ a b c Arnaiz-Villena, A; et al (2001). "Phylogeography of crossbills, bullfinches, grosbeaks, and rosefinches". Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences 58 (8): 1159–1166. doi:10.1007/PL00000930. PMID 11529508. 
  8. ^ Arnaiz-Villena, A; Gómez-Prieto P, Ruiz-de-Valle V (2009). "Phylogeography of finches and sparrows". Nova Science Publishers. ISBN 978-1-60741-8443. 

Further reading[edit]


  • Adkisson CS. Ph.D. (1972). An Analysis of Morphological and Vocal Geographic Variation in North American Pine Grosbeaks, Pinicola enucleator (Aves). University of Michigan, United States—Michigan.


  • Adkisson CS. (1977). Morphological Variation in North American Pine Grosbeaks. Wilson Bulletin. vol 89, no 3. p. 380–395.
  • Adkisson CS. (1981). Geographic Variation in Vocalizations and Evolution of North American Pine Grosbeaks Pinicola enucleator . Condor. vol 83, no 4. p. 277–288.
  • Babenko VG & Redkin YA. (1999). Ornithogeographical characteristics of the Low Amur basin. Zool Zhurnal. vol 78, no 3. p. 398–408.
  • Boev Z. (1999). Earliest finds of crossbills (genus Loxia) (Aves: Fringillidae) from Varshets (NW Bulgaria). Geologica Balcanica. vol 29, no 3-4. p. 51–57.
  • Brotons L, Monkkonen M, Huhta E, Nikula A & Rajasarkka A. (2003). Effects of landscape structure and forest reserve location on old-growth forest bird species in Northern Finland. Landscape Ecology. vol 18, no 4. p. 377–393.
  • Davies C & Sharrock JTR. (2000). The European Bird Report: Passerines. British Birds. vol 93, no 9. p. 415–427.
  • Dunn EH. (1989). Are Pine Grosbeaks Increasing at Bird Feeders in Ontario Canada. Ontario Birds. vol 7, no 3. p. 87–91.
  • Fuiimaki Y, Toda A & Yoshida S. (1979). Rosy Finch Leucosticte-Arctoa New-Record and Pine Grosbeak Pinicola-Enucleator New-Record from Hidaka Mountains Central Hokkaido Japan. Journal of the Yamashina Institute for Ornithology. vol 11, no 1. p. 67–69.
  • Groth, J. G. 1994. A mitochondrial cytochrome b phylogeny of cardueline finches. Journal für Ornithologie, 135: 31.
  • Groth, J. G. 1998. Molecular phylogeny of the cardueline finches and Hawaiian honeycreepers. Ostrich, 69: 401.
  • Kinch B. (2006). Northern Shrike preys on Pine Grosbeak. Ontario Birds. vol 24, no 3. p. 160–161.
  • Koenig WD & Knops JMH. (2001). Seed-crop size and eruptions of North American boreal seed-eating birds. Journal of Animal Ecology. vol 70, no 4. p. 609–620.
  • Mikaelian I, Ley DH, Claveau R, Lemieux M & Berube J-P. (2001). Mycoplasmosis in evening and pine grosbeaks with conjunctivitis in Quebec. Journal of Wildlife Diseases. vol 37, no 4. p. 826–830.
  • Mills A. (1986). Correlations among Winter Finch Numbers at Ottawa Canada 1958–1983. Ontario Birds. vol 4, no 1. p. 30–32.
  • Peck MK, Coady G, Binsfeld G & Konze KR. (2004). First documented nest record of Pine Grosbeak in Ontario. Ontario Birds. vol 22, no 1. p. 2–8.
  • Pittaway R. (1989). Pine Grosbeaks Using Bird Feeders. Ontario Birds. vol 7, no 2. p. 65–67
  • Pittaway R. (1998). Two song types of the pine grosbeak. Ontario Birds. vol 16, no 1. p. 38–39
  • Pruitt WO, Jr. (2005). Why and how to study a snowcover. Canadian Field Naturalist. vol 119, no 1. p. 118–128.
  • Pulliainen E. (1979). On the Breeding of the Pine Grosbeak Pinicola-Enucleator in Northeastern Finland. Ornis Fennica. vol 56, no 4. p. 156–162.
  • Pulliainen E, Saari L & Tunkkari P. (2002). Life strategy of Finnish pine grosbeaks Pinicola enucleator. Aquilo Ser Zoologica. vol 30, p. 83–96.
  • Spicer GS. (1978). A New Species and Several New Host Records of Avian Nasal Mites Acarina Rhinonyssinae Turbinoptinae. Journal of Parasitology. vol 64, no 5. p. 891–894.
  • Stephen LJ & Walley WJ. (2000). Alcohol intoxication contributing to mortality in Bohemian Waxwings and a Pine Grosbeak. Blue Jay. vol 58, no 1. p. 33–35.
  • Stradi R, Celentano G & Nava D. (1995). Separation and identification of carotenoids in bird's plumage by high-performance liquid chromatography-diode-array detection. Journal of Chromatography B Biomedical Applications. vol 670, no 2. p. 337–348.
  • Stradi R, Pini E & Celentano G. (2001). Carotenoids in bird plumage: the complement of red pigments in the plumage of wild and captive bullfinch (Pyrrhula pyrrhula). Comp Biochem Physiol B-Biochem Mol Biol. vol 128, no 3. p. 529–535.
  • Stradi R, Rossi E, Celentano G & Bellardi B. (1996). Carotenoids in bird plumage: The pattern in three Loxia species and in Pinicola enucleator. Comparative Biochemistry & Physiology B. vol 113, no 2. p. 427–432.
  • Svingen D & Rogers TH. (1994). Winter Season: December 1, 1993 – February 28, 1994: Idaho/Western Montana Region. National Audubon Society Field Notes. vol 48, no 2. p. 228–229
  • Taylor P. (1979). Interspecific Vocal Mimicry by Pine Grosbeaks Pinicola-Enucleator. Canadian Field Naturalist. vol 93, no 4. p. 436–437.
  • Taylor P. (1996). Winter songs of the Pine Grosbeak. Blue Jay. vol 54, no 2. p. 82–84.
  • Topp CM. (2004). EPSCoR graduate fellowship phase I, Alaska genomic diversity (2003–2004). Arctic Science Conference Abstracts. vol 55, no September 29.
  • Virkkala R. (1987). Effects of Forest Management on Birds Breeding in Northern Finland. Annales Zoologici Fennici. vol 24, no 4. p. 281–294.
  • Virkkala R. (1991). Population Trends of Forest Birds in a Finnish Lapland Landscape of Large Habitat Blocks Consequences of Stochastic Environmental Variation or Regional Habitat Alteration. Biological Conservation. vol 56, no 2. p. 223–240.
  • Wolfe DFG. (1996). Opportunistic winter water acquisition by Pine Grosbeaks. Wilson Bulletin. vol 108, no 1. p. 186–187.

External links[edit]