Birds – Pine Grosbeak

(Pinicola enucleator) Finch family Called also : PINE BULLFINCH

Length—Variously recorded from 6.5 to 11 inches. Specimen measured 8.5 inches. About one-fifth smaller than the robin.

Male—General color strawberry-red, with some slate-gray fleckings about head, under wings, and on legs. Tail brown; wings brown, marked with black and white and slate. A band-shaped series of markings between the shoulders. Underneath paler red, merging into grayish green. Heavy, conspicuous bill.

Female—Ash-brown. Head and hind neck yellowish brown, each feather having central dusky streak. Cheeks and throat yellowish. Beneath ash-gray, tinged with brownish yellow under tail.

Range—British American provinces and northern United States.

Migrations—Irregular winter visitors; length of visits as uncertain as their coming.

As inseparable as bees from flowers, so are these beautiful winter visitors from the evergreen woods, where their red feathers, shining against the dark-green background of the trees, give them charming prominence; but they also feed freely upon the buds of various deciduous trees.

South of Canada we may not look for them except in the severest winter weather. Even then their coming is not to be positively depended upon; but when their caprice—or was it an unusually fierce northern blast ?—sends them over the Canada border, it is a simple matter to identify them when such brilliant birds are rare. The brownish-yellow and grayish females and young males, however, always seem to be in the majority with us, though our Canadian friends assure us of the irreproachable morals of this gay bird.

Wherever there are clusters of pine or cedar trees, when there is a flock of pine grosbeaks in the neighborhood, you may expect to find a pair of birds diligently feeding upon the seeds and berries. No cheerful note escapes them as they persistently gormandize, and, if the truth must be confessed, they appear to be rather stupid and uninteresting, albeit they visit us at a time when we are most inclined to rapture over our bird visitors. They are said to have a deliciously sweet song in the nesting season, when, however, few except the Canadian voyageurs hear it.