Rose-breasted Grosbeak

Pheucticus ludovicianus
Rose-breasted Grosbeak specimens on display in the exhibit "Birds of D.C."

A medium-sized (7-8 ½ inches) songbird, the male Rose-breasted Grosbeak is most easily identified by its black head and body, white belly, and bright red breast patch. The female Rose-breasted Grosbeak is mottled brown above and streaked below with conspicuous white eye-stripes. Both sexes have large conical bills, dark legs, and squared-off tails. This species may be distinguished from the related Black-headed Grosbeak ( Pheucticus melanocephalus) by that species’ orange breast and from the similar-looking Eastern Towhee (Pipilo erythrophthalmus) by that species’ chestnut flanks, black breast, and rounded tail. The Rose-breasted Grosbeak breeds across the northeastern United States and southern Canada, north and west to British Columbia and south at higher elevations in the east to northern Georgia. In winter, this species migrates south to southern Mexico, Central America, and northern South America. On migration, this species may be found for short periods of time across the southeastern U.S. as far west as Texas. Rose-breasted Grosbeaks breed in a variety of woodland habitats, particularly in heavily-vegetated undergrowth near forest edges or clearings. In winter, this species may be found in similarly-structured habitats in tropical forests. Rose-breasted Grosbeaks eat a variety of plant and animal foods, including fruits, berries, and insects. In appropriate habitat, Rose-breasted Grosbeaks may be seen foraging for food in the branches of trees or shrubs and, less frequently, on the ground. This species also visits bird feeders when available, notably during migration, when individuals may frequent a particular backyard for a few days before moving on. Rose-breasted Grosbeaks are most active during the day, but, like many migratory songbirds, this species migrates at night.

DC Information

Common migrant, fairly common summer resident in deciduous forests from early May to early October, breeds May to July. The male with its black, white, and rose-red color is very different from the brown-streaked female.

Specimen Information

A female is on the left and a colorful male is on the right.

Distribution Map

distribution map for this species

Bird Vocalizations

Sound from xeno-canto. XC62780 Pheucticus ludovicianus (Rose-breasted Grosbeak)

Sound from xeno-canto. XC62781 Pheucticus ludovicianus (Rose-breasted Grosbeak)

Sound from xeno-canto. XC31103 Pheucticus ludovicianus (Rose-breasted Grosbeak)