The rose-breasted grosbeak can be a confusing bird to many – the males may often look like they’re grievously wounded with a bright red stain on their chests “dripping” down to their abdomen, while the females are so differently colored that they can be confused for a completely different species. There is a great deal that makes these birds amazing, however, and there’s always more to learn about rose-breasted grosbeaks!
Rose-Breasted Grosbeak Fun Facts
- These rose-breasted grosbeak (Pheucticus ludovicianus) is a member of the Cardinalidae bird family, along with other grosbeaks, chats, buntings, cardinals, and tanagers.
- Other common names for the rose-breasted grosbeak include the Louisiana grosbeak, cut-throat, and red-breasted grosbeak.
- Rose-breasted grosbeaks have large, powerful bills ideal for cracking seeds, but they also eat a wide variety of other foods. Insects, butterflies, beetles, grubs, berries, tree buds, and nectar are also part of their diet. In agricultural areas, these birds will eat wheat, oats, peas, and corn.
- Male rose-breasted grosbeaks are accomplished singers, and their songs are used to attract mates as well as claim territory and warn away competitors. A male rose-breasted grosbeak may sing more than 650 times per day! Females also sing, but usually only when building or sitting on the nest.
- These birds build their cup-shaped nests using twigs, grasses, weeds, rootlets, and animal fur. The nest can be so loosely built and flimsy, however, that the eggs can occasionally be spotted through the bottom.
- Rose-breasted grosbeaks are exceptionally long-lived for songbirds, and the average lifespan is roughly 7 years. The longest-lived wild rose-breasted grosbeak lived for 12 years, 11 months. In captivity, these birds can live more than 20 years.
Adding the Rose-Breasted Grosbeak to Your Life List
These birds are relatively easy to recognize, and they’re found throughout forests and woodlands in their range, as well as along forest edges and in wooded parks in urban and suburban areas. Rose-breasted grosbeaks also readily visit feeders, particularly where sunflower seeds are offered or where bird-friendly landscaping includes plentiful berries. Listen carefully for this bird’s melodious, whistling song in order to find males as they are perched and singing, and you’ll quickly spot their relatively large, chunky figures. During migration, these birds are easy to find in orchards where food (buds and insects in spring and fruit in fall) is plentiful.
Learn More About the Rose-Breasted Grosbeak
There are many great resources where you can discover even more about these charming and colorful birds, including…
- Cornell Lab of Ornithology: Detailed overview species profile
- BirdLife International: Detailed seasonal range map, including migration
- Xeno-Canto: 150+ recordings of rose-breasted grosbeak songs and calls
- NestWatch: Details on rose-breasted grosbeak breeding and nesting
- YouTube: Excellent video of rose-breasted grosbeak songs
- Be Your Own Birder: Our own ad-free gallery of amazing photos