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Rose-breasted Grosbeak Notecard



(Pheucticus ludovicianus)

A lovely, boldly patterned bird in the cardinal family, the male Rose-breasted Grosbeak is unmistakable. With his conical beak, jet black head and wings and triangular bib of bright rosey-red, he is easy to identify. The female, on the other hand, is a bit harder to spot. Like many female songbirds, she is streaked with brown and white cryptic markings, which makes her resemble a large sparrow or finch.

Both genders tend the nest, a loosely built structure of coarse twigs and rough plant materials that is lined with fine rootlets, twigs and hair. The clutch of three to five, one inch long pale green eggs are usually wreathed or capped with brown or purple markings. The song of the male Rose-breasted Grosbeak is often compared to that of the American Robin, but softer and more melodic. The female also sings, but her song is a bit softer than the male’s.

Rose-breasted Grosbeaks eat seeds, fruit and insects. They particularly relish grasshoppers, tussock moths, gypsy moths, the Colorado potato beetle and other insects that can cause harm to crops. For this reason, they are considered a welcome and beneficial species by mankind. Found throughout most of Canada and the Eastern United States, they are still considered common within their range. However, recent studies show populations are beginning to decline, especially in the east.

artwork and text by Tracy Graber © 2008