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Finch Grosbeaks, Evening & Pine facts & photos

Updated on June 13, 2015

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For the meanings of bird parts which you do not understand in this Hub, see my bird glossary.

If what you want is not in there, please let me know so that I can add it in the glossary.

Here is a variety of Evening Grosbeaks

 Evening grosbeak from The Crossley ID Guide: Eastern Birds
Evening grosbeak from The Crossley ID Guide: Eastern Birds | Source

Female Pine Grosbeaks at feeder

 Pine Grosbeak, females. Lake Notre-Dame, Montfort, Wentworth-Nord, Quebec, Canada.
Pine Grosbeak, females. Lake Notre-Dame, Montfort, Wentworth-Nord, Quebec, Canada. | Source

Interesting facts:

I call them the 'Lone' grosbeaks for one reason. It is as a result of them being in the finch family instead of in the grosbeak family. These two birds happen to be the Evening Grosbeak and the Pine Grosbeak.

The Evening Grosbeak at one time lived in the conifer forests of the northwest. Then it widened its range farther eastward as it traveled all of the way to the Atlantic Coast. I believe this happened sometime in the second half of the nineteenth century. Now the bird even visits the southern Gulf states in the winter.

You can usually tell these two birds apart not only by their color but by tail size, body size and wingspan.

Did you know that a group of grosbeaks is named a "gross"?


Male grosbeak,

Evening Grosbeak at Klamath Falls, California (See capsule 'Evening Grosbeak')
Evening Grosbeak at Klamath Falls, California (See capsule 'Evening Grosbeak') | Source

Female grosbeak

 Hesperiphona vespertina female, western subspecies brooksi. Pine Mountain Lake, California. (See capsule 'Evening Grosbeak')
Hesperiphona vespertina female, western subspecies brooksi. Pine Mountain Lake, California. (See capsule 'Evening Grosbeak') | Source

Juvenile, male

(See capsule 'Evening Grosbeak -...')
(See capsule 'Evening Grosbeak -...') | Source

Evening Grosbeak - (Coccothraustes vespertinus)

Size: The bird has an average length of 7" - 8", it has an average wingspan of 14" when the wings are spread.

Male: If you look at the birds top view from the tail to the head it is black, white, yellow/gray and black.

Viewing the bird from the bottom of the body, you see all yellow with a black neck and head and a short tail. It also has a conical shaped bill.

Viewing from the side the bird has a robust yellow body, black wings and a tail. The wings have white patches which are on the lower wings when the wings are closed, but only the lower half of the inner wings when the wings are open. Atop the white on the back the bird is yellow but it has some light black, or gray, mixed with in the yellow. It does have an all yellow nape. The head is black except for a long yellow eyebrow which begins above one eye, wraps around the forehead and ends above the other eye. The eyebrow almost looks like a yellow lightning bolt. The bird has a heavy bill which is yellow in the winter, you will notice that the bill sheds the exterior layer in the spring, showing the bluish-green below.

Female: The females are a brownish-gray mostly all over except for a light yellow nape. The wings and the tail are also a different color, they are black with some gray and covered with white spots. The birds beaks are basically the same as the male's.

Juvenile: The juveniles look generally similar to the female.








Nesting

Before this bird gets to the breeding, the male provides seeds, and such, to the female and then spreads its wings to sway them back and forth while they throb in rhythm. It continues this 'dance' until the female fully accepts the male.

Then the female builds the nest and incubates.

In a conifer tree, is a cup that is not too deep nor well anchored, yet it is made of twigs, lined with rootlets and holds 3 - 4 bluish-green eggs (plus the weight of the mother) the eggs are lightly speckled with dark brown, gray and olive.

Incubation Period: This period usually lasts for 11 - 14 days until the eggs hatch.

Fledging Period: In this period, the nestlings are fed and taken care of for 13 - 14 days since they are altricial.

Brood: In their breeding season(s), they lay eggs twice, for a total of 4 - 10 eggs.

Male at feeder

Hesperiphona vespertina male, western subspecies brooksi. Pine Mountain Lake, California. (See capsule 'Feeding')
Hesperiphona vespertina male, western subspecies brooksi. Pine Mountain Lake, California. (See capsule 'Feeding') | Source

Feeding

The Evening Grosbeak is almost limited to sunflower seeds at feeding areas, but you will also see them eat fruit, nuts plus pine and maple seeds if you have them to put out for food. They also eat seeds from box elders and tulip poplars plus some buds, insects, tree sap and road salt.

This species can be like a flood or like a desert. You may see them devour every seed out of your feeders one year, or the following year you may see not see any of these birds at your feeder(s).



Co-habitation

(See capsule 'Habitat')
(See capsule 'Habitat') | Source

Grosbeak in breeding season

Evening Grosbeak north of Prince Albert (Saskatchewan) (See capsule 'Range')
Evening Grosbeak north of Prince Albert (Saskatchewan) (See capsule 'Range') | Source

Habitat

During the summers, the Evening Grosbeak is mainly up in northern mixed and coniferous woods while sometimes also visiting deciduous woods. In the wintertime, you will basically see them in open areas with trees - box elders for one - and shrubs, and in suburban yards at feeders.




Range

At one time these grosbeaks were out in the west and only came to Minnesota - no farther east - but thanks to feeders being put up and box elders being planted, flocks of the birds were saved in the winter. It now breeds east to the Atlantic Coast. These birds are just the same as most of the other northern finches. They are more numerous in some years than other years.

They can breed from British Columbia, east to Nova Scotia, and south to northern New England, Minnesota, Mexico (in the mountains), and California. Winters south to southern California, Texas and South Carolina.

Voice

Their song is an arrangement of brief, harmonic whistles. Call note like a chirp/chip of the House Sparrow, except it is louder and it has more of a mellow tone. It is a loud call and sounds similar to a 'Cleep!' note. The call when given by a flock might remind you of sleigh bells.

Song and call of Western birds is much like the Eastern birds, but flight call is a shrill, sharp, whistled 'teew' not either ringing or trilled sound.

Conservation Status

The Evening Grosbeak is a bird that is earthbound. It is genuine in the United States, Miquelon, Saint Pierre, Mexico and Canada. If you visit the UK or Norway, you may do so at the same time that the bird also visits these countries. Presently, the Evening Grosbeak is Least Concern as an outcome of the birds large range.

Grosbeak Families

Grosbeak
Family/Ally
 
Evening
Finch
 
Pine
Finch
 
Rose-breasted
Cardinal/Ally
 
Blue
Cardinal/Ally
 
Black-headed
Cardinal/Ally
 
Crimson-collared
Cardinal/Ally
 

Pine Grosbeak in three types

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Pine Grosbeak, male, Pine Grosbeak, male, perched on a sign in Jackson City., Colorado. (part of Interior West range)Male Pine Grosbeak feeding off branch in Manitoba, Canada. (Canada is part of Taiga range)
Pine Grosbeak, male,
Pine Grosbeak, male, | Source
Pine Grosbeak, male, perched on a sign in Jackson City., Colorado. (part of Interior West range)
Pine Grosbeak, male, perched on a sign in Jackson City., Colorado. (part of Interior West range) | Source
Male Pine Grosbeak feeding off branch in Manitoba, Canada. (Canada is part of Taiga range)
Male Pine Grosbeak feeding off branch in Manitoba, Canada. (Canada is part of Taiga range) | Source

General info about Pine Grosbeaks

There are three types of P. Grosbeaks which vary due to geographic location. They are the Pacific, the Interior West and the Taiga (swampy, coniferous, forests of high northern latitudes).

You can tell them apart by the following details:

  • Pacific male has dark and widespread red coloring on underparts.
  • Interior West male is more of a drab red coloring, with most of the underparts gray, speckling on the breast and entirely gray flanks, as well as little or no dark flecks on the back.
  • Taiga male has pinkish-red coloring and is of average range.

Male

Pinicola enucleator feeding upon crabapple fruit. Chippewa Co., Michigan, USA. (See capsule 'Pine Grosbeak')
Pinicola enucleator feeding upon crabapple fruit. Chippewa Co., Michigan, USA. (See capsule 'Pine Grosbeak') | Source

Female

Pinicola enucleator feeding on crabapple fruit. Chippewa Co., Michigan, USA. (See capsule 'Pine Grosbeak')
Pinicola enucleator feeding on crabapple fruit. Chippewa Co., Michigan, USA. (See capsule 'Pine Grosbeak') | Source

Pine Grosbeak (Pinicola enucleator)

Size: Generally is about 9” long, its wings are just a bit larger being about 14.5" when spread. It has a body weight of about 2 oz.

Male: A male looks similar to a Purple Finch because the grosbeak has a red (with a rose tint) head, chest and back and a gray belly. Its wings are black with two white wing bars. It has a stubby, rounded, conical shaped bill plus the bird is larger, and has a longer tail, than the White-winged Crossbill.


Female: The female is an overall gray, except for the olive-yellow head and rump. Plus the white wing bars, the very thin white streaks on the wings and the faint white mark around the eyes.

Immature:

  • Male: Looks like the adult female, but the head and the rump are an orange color.
  • Female: Similar to the adult female.
  • Immature plumage is kept for up to 1 year.


Nesting

They start with mosses, twigs, roots, lichens and grasses. Then they carefully line the nest with rootlets, fur, lichens and place it in either a shrub or a tree approximately 2' - 30’ above the ground. In the end they have a nest to hold 2 - 6 eggs of a blue - green color which are speckled, usually with brown or gray spots.

Incubation Period: The eggs are kept warm for 13 - 15 days.

Fledging Period: After the eggs are hatched the birds are in the nest for another 13 - 20 days, due to being altricial. During this period, the parents develop pouches on the floor of their mouth so they can carry food back for their young. They are called 'gular' pouches.

Brood: These birds only have one every year.

Feeding

The bird forages on the ground and in foliage for the seeds, nuts, buds - especially maple buds - and fruits from many trees. Such as crab apples, maples, ashes and pines. The bird also eats insects.


At feeding stations, sunflower seed and grain scattered on the ground will attract the Pine Grosbeaks, as well as dried fruit such as crab apple, mountain ash and hawthorn berries. These birds are very approachable at feeders since P. Grosbeaks are tame.

Canada habitat

Pine Grosbeak in northern Saskatchewan (See capsule 'Habitat')
Pine Grosbeak in northern Saskatchewan (See capsule 'Habitat') | Source

Habitat

These birds are restrictively typical in northern forests of spruce and fir.


They are somewhat abundant in coniferous forest boundaries and at alpine U.S. mountains in the summer.

Map

Range map of the Pine Grosbeak, (Pinicola enucleator). Blue indicates non-breeding habitat, green indicates permanent habitat. Based on range map at Nature Serve (See capsule 'Range')
Range map of the Pine Grosbeak, (Pinicola enucleator). Blue indicates non-breeding habitat, green indicates permanent habitat. Based on range map at Nature Serve (See capsule 'Range') | Source

Range

They breed from Alaska, east to Newfoundland and Nova Scotia, and south in western mountains to California and Arizona. They winter south to Dakotas and New York, sometimes farther. Also in Eurasia.


This bird is generally not migratory, it desires to stay in its northern home for the length of the year. The P. Grosbeak occasionally has to move south unwillingly because of a shortage of seeds - its main food source - and wild fruit. Pine Grosbeaks are sociable birds, living in flocks of up to 100 birds, and they visit southern areas in these flocks, looking for coniferous forests, open hillsides, and yards with fruit trees.

Voice

The song is like a low Purple Finch’s harmonious melody. The call is like 3 high weak whistles indicating Greater Yellowlegs, like a “tee-wee-tee” note. With the middle note being the lowest note.


Conservation Status

The Pine Grosbeak as a huge range. It can be found in the United States, Mexico, Canada, Japan, China, Finland, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Mongolia, Norway, Sweden, the Russian Federation and shifting flocks are present in Europe and the Caribbean. {My fingers are tired - that is a big area!} It is not thought that the bird count will go down very soon. At the moment, the studies show it to be of Least Concern.

How well do you know your grosbeaks?


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Author: Kevin - ©2013

© 2013 The Examiner-1

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    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 3 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Very well done and thorough. I hope to see the evening version in OK.

    • The Examiner-1 profile image
      Author

      The Examiner-1 3 years ago

      Thank you for your reply. I am glad that you liked it.

      I did not fully understand the second part though. When you said 'evening version' - did you mean the Evening Grosbeak, or otherwise?

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 3 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      I meant the Evening Grosbeak. I know they are here.

    • moonlake profile image

      moonlake 3 years ago from America

      I love Grosbeaks. We get them here all the time on our feeders. In one of my hubs I have a video of them that I took at our feeder. They are beautiful birds. Very nice hub voted up.

    • The Examiner-1 profile image
      Author

      The Examiner-1 3 years ago

      moonlake

      Thank you for your comment. I do not remember whether I have seen a grosbeak. I may have but if I did it would have been too many years ago when I was just beginning bird watching.

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