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Overview

Brief Summary

Pheucticus ludovicianus

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 a 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.

Threat Status: Least concern

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Distribution

Geographic Range

Rose-breasted grosbeaks breed in northern North America, from British Columbia in the west to the Atlantic coast of Canada in the east and as far south as New Jersey, the Appalachian Mountains through South Carolina, west to eastern Kansas, Nebraska, and the Dakotas. In winter they are found in the greater Antilles, coastal Mexico, and throughout Central America and northern South America to eastern Peru and Guyana.

Biogeographic Regions: nearctic (Native )

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Range

E Canada and US; > from Mexico to Peru and w Cuba.

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Geographic Range

Rose-breasted grosbeaks breed in northern North America, from British Columbia in the west to the Canadian maritime provinces in the east and as far south as New Jersey, the Appalachian Mountains through South Carolina, west to eastern Kansas, Nebraska, and the Dakotas. In winter they are found in the greater Antilles, coastal Mexico, and throughout Central America and northern South America to eastern Peru and Guyana. They are sometimes seen wintering in the lesser Antilles and Revillagigedo Islands as well. They are very occasionally seen in Europe.

Biogeographic Regions: nearctic (Native )

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occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations

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National Distribution

Canada

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

Type of Residency: Breeding

United States

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

Type of Residency: Breeding

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Global Range: (>2,500,000 square km (greater than 1,000,000 square miles)) BREEDS: northeastern British Columbia and southern Mackenzie to Nova Scotia, south to southern Alberta, northern North Dakota, eastern Nebraska, Oklahoma, southern Missouri, Indiana, northern Georgia, West Virginia, and North Carolina. NORTHERN WINTER: generally from central Mexico to northern South America (Colombia and northern Venezuela, more rarely to Ecuador, central Peru, southern Venezuela, Guyana [once]), occasionally north to U.S. Rare in West Indies.

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Physical Description

Morphology

Physical Description

Rose-breasted grosbeak males and females have different color patterns. Rose-breasted grosbeaks are 18 to 21.5 cm long and from 39 to 49 grams. Males have a black head, white bill, are black and white dorsally and have a white belly and breast, topped with their rosy throat. Females are brown with white markings above and buffy with brown streaks on the belly, breast, and throat.

Range mass: 39 to 49 g.

Range length: 18 to 21.5 mm.

Other Physical Features: endothermic ; homoiothermic; bilateral symmetry

Sexual Dimorphism: sexes colored or patterned differently; male more colorful

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Physical Description

Rose-breasted grosbeaks are sexually dimorphic in plumage pattern. Males have vivid black and white feathers with a rose-colored throat, females have brown and white streaked plumage, with a distinct, buffy eyestripe. Rose-breasted grosbeaks are 18 to 21.5 cm long and from 39 to 49 grams. Males have a black head, white bill, are black and white dorsally and have a white belly and breast, topped with their rosy throat. Females are brown with white markings above and buffy with brown streaks on the belly, breast, and throat. Immature and non-breeding males take on some female plumage characteristics, such as the buffy white superciliary stripe and some brown and streaked plumage. There are no subspecies.

Rose-breasted grosbeak females are almost identical to females of the closely related black-headed grosbeaks (Pheucticus melanocephalus), although they tend to have more streaking on their breasts. Although the males of these two species differ in pattern, hybridization does occur where their ranges overlap in the central U.S. and southern Canada. The two species are ecologically similar and have similar songs.

Range mass: 39 to 49 g.

Range length: 18 to 21.5 mm.

Other Physical Features: endothermic ; homoiothermic; bilateral symmetry

Sexual Dimorphism: sexes colored or patterned differently; male more colorful

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Size

Length: 20 cm

Weight: 46 grams

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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Systems
  • Terrestrial
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Rose-breasted grosbeaks are found in a wide variety of wooded habitats, including swamp or wet forests, forests along rivers and streams, and forest edges. They prefer mixed or deciduous woodlands with an open structure, such as second-growth habitats. They seem to avoid dry woodlands and grasslands.

Range elevation: 0 to 3800 m.

Habitat Regions: temperate ; tropical ; terrestrial

Terrestrial Biomes: forest ; scrub forest

Other Habitat Features: riparian

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In their breeding range, rose-breasted grosbeaks are found in a wide variety of wooded habitats, including swamp or mesic forests, riparian corridors, and forest edges along marshes, roads, and pastures. They prefer mixed or deciduous woodlands with an open structure, such as second-growth habitats. They seem to avoid dry woodlands and grasslands. They are found in similar kinds of habitats along migratory routes and in their winter range. They are found at elevations up to 3800 m in Colombia.

Range elevation: 0 to 3800 m.

Habitat Regions: temperate ; tropical ; terrestrial

Terrestrial Biomes: forest ; scrub forest

Other Habitat Features: riparian

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Comments: Second-growth woods, mature forest edge, borders of swamps and wooded streams, dense growths of small trees, gardens and parks, old orchards. In migration and winter in various forest, woodland, and scrub habitats; avoids interior of closed forest. Usually remains high in trees but sometimes descends to ground (Stiles and Skutch 1989). Nests usually in thickets or small trees, generally 2-5 m above ground.

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Migration

Non-Migrant: No. All populations of this species make significant seasonal migrations.

Locally Migrant: No. No populations of this species make local extended movements (generally less than 200 km) at particular times of the year (e.g., to breeding or wintering grounds, to hibernation sites).

Locally Migrant: Yes. At least some populations of this species make annual migrations of over 200 km.

Migrates through West Indies. Usually arrives in the eastern U.S. and southern Canada in May (Terres 1980). Arrives in Costa Rica mainly mid-October (occasionally by early September), departs usually by mid-April (or as late as early May) (Stiles and Skutch 1989). Arrives in Colombia as early as mid-October but mainly present from December onward; departs by late April (Hilty and Brown 1986).

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Trophic Strategy

Food Habits

Rose-breasted grosbeaks eat seeds, fruit, and insects, with proportions varying seasonally. During the breeding season they eat approximately 52% insects and 48% seeds and fruit. During migration they eat mostly fruits. Rose-breasted grosbeaks forage in tree branches or on the ground. They take insects from leaves or capture them in the air. Insects eaten include Coleoptera, including Leptinotarsa decimlineata, Hymenoptera, Hemiptera, and Lepidoptera. They prey heavily on wild berries, weed seeds, and will sometimes eat domestic crops like Pisum sativum, Zea mays, Avena sativa, and Triticum vulgare.

Animal Foods: insects

Plant Foods: seeds, grains, and nuts; fruit; flowers

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Food Habits

Rose-breasted grosbeaks eat seeds, fruit, and insects, with proportions varying seasonally. During the breeding season they eat approximately 52% insects and 48% seeds and fruit. They may also eat the ovaries of flowers. During migration they rely heavily on fruits. There is less known about winter range diet, except that it includes fruits and oil-rich seeds. Rose-breasted grosbeaks forage throughout forest canopy levels and occasionally on the ground. They glean insects from leaves or can hover or hawk to capture insects. They often eat the fruiting body off of seeds or extract only the germ of seeds to eat. Insects eaten include beetles, including Colorado potato beetles (Leptinotarsa decimlineata), bees and ants, bugs, and butterfly larvae. They prey heavily on wild fruits such as elderberry (Sambucus canadensis), red-berried elder (Sambucus pubens), blackberry and raspberry (Rubus species), mulberry (Morus rubra), and juneberry (Amelanchier canadensis), and weed seeds, such as smartweed (Polygonum), pigweed (Amaranthus), foxtail (Setaria), milkweed (Asclepias), and sunflowers (Helianthus). They may also eat domestic crops, such as peas (Pisum sativum), corn (Zea mays), oats (Avena sativa), and wheat (Triticum vulgare).

Animal Foods: insects

Plant Foods: seeds, grains, and nuts; fruit; flowers

Primary Diet: omnivore

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Comments: Eats seeds, fruits, buds, and flowers of trees; and insects (caterpillars, lepidopterans, grasshoppers, etc.) (Terres 1980).

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Associations

Ecosystem Roles

Rose-breasted grosbeaks may help disperse fruit seeds and control insect populations in the ecosystems they live in. Their nests are parasitized by Molothrus ater, but parents usually keep cowbirds away. Other parasites are lice and parasitic flies.

Commensal/Parasitic Species:

  • brown-headed cowbirds (Molothrus_ater)
  • lice (Brueelia_pallidula)
  • lice (Menacanthus_eurysternus)
  • parasitic flies (Ornithoctona_strigilecula)
  • parasitic flies (Ornithomyia_anchineuria)

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Predation

Most predation is on eggs and nestlings. Rose-breasted grosbeak pairs will attack predators near their nests. Reported nest predators are Cyanocitta cristata, Quiscalus quiscula, Sciurus carolinensis, and Tamiasciurus hudsonicus. Adults may be preyed on by Accipiter cooperii and Accipiter striatus.

Known Predators:

  • blue jays (Cyanocitta_cristata)
  • common grackles (Quiscalus_quiscula)
  • grey squirrels (Sciurus_carolinensis)
  • red squirrels (Tamiasciurus_hudsonicus)
  • Cooper's hawks (Accipiter_cooperii)
  • sharp-shinned hawks (Accipiter_striatus)

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Ecosystem Roles

Rose-breasted grosbeak nests are parasitized by brown-headed cowbirds (Molothrus ater). However, aggressive nest defense by parents may make parasitism unlikely and the survival of grosbeak nestlings seems unaffected by parasitism. Other parasites are lice (Brueelia pallidula and Menacanthus eurysternus) and parasitic flies (Ornithoctona strigilecula and Ornithomya fringillina). Rose-breasted grosbeaks may help to disperse some seeds and control local insect populations.

Commensal/Parasitic Species:

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Predation

Most predation is on eggs and nestlings. Rose-breasted grosbeak pairs will attack or mob perceived threats near their nests. Reported nest predators are blue jays (Cyanocitta cristata), common grackles (Quiscalus quiscula), grey squirrels (Sciurus carolinensis), and red squirrels (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus). Adults may be preyed on by Cooper's hawks (Accipiter cooperii) and sharp-shinned hawks (Accipiter striatus).

Known Predators:

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Known predators

Pheucticus ludovicianus (Baltimore oriole, chickadee, least flycatcher, rosebreasted grosbeak, willow thrush) is prey of:
Accipiter striatus
Accipiter cooperii
Bubo virginianus

Based on studies in:
Canada: Manitoba (Forest)

This list may not be complete but is based on published studies.
  • R. D. Bird, Biotic communities of the Aspen Parkland of central Canada, Ecology, 11:356-442, from p. 410 (1930).
  • R. D. Bird, Biotic communities of the Aspen Parkland of central Canada, Ecology, 11:356-442, from p. 406 (1930).
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Known prey organisms

Pheucticus ludovicianus (Baltimore oriole, chickadee, least flycatcher, rosebreasted grosbeak, willow thrush) preys on:
Araneae
Insecta

Based on studies in:
Canada: Manitoba (Forest)

This list may not be complete but is based on published studies.
  • R. D. Bird, Biotic communities of the Aspen Parkland of central Canada, Ecology, 11:356-442, from p. 410 (1930).
  • R. D. Bird, Biotic communities of the Aspen Parkland of central Canada, Ecology, 11:356-442, from p. 406 (1930).
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Population Biology

Number of Occurrences

Note: For many non-migratory species, occurrences are roughly equivalent to populations.

Estimated Number of Occurrences: 81 to >300

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Global Abundance

10,000 to >1,000,000 individuals

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General Ecology

In winter, in flocks of 3-6, rarely up to 20 (Stiles and Skutch 1989).

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Life History and Behavior

Behavior

Communication and Perception

Rose-breasted grosbeaks are known for their lovely, melodic song. Males sing to advertise breeding territories, up to 689 songs in a day. Females may also sing when they are building nests. Other calls used include a sharp "chink" contact call and various squawks, chuks, and hurrrs. Young first make sounds at 6 days after hatching and young males sing their first songs at about 30 days old. Songs seems to be learned.

Communication Channels: acoustic

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Communication and Perception

Rose-breasted grosbeaks are known for their lovely, melodic song. Males sing to advertise breeding territories, up to 689 songs in a day. Females may also sing when they are building nests. Other calls used include a sharp "chink" contact call and various squawks, chuks, and hurrrs used in different contexts. Young first make sounds at 6 days after hatching and young males produce their first songs at about 30 days old. Songs seems to be learned.

Communication Channels: acoustic

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Life Expectancy

Lifespan/Longevity

The oldest reported wild bird was captured at almost 13 years old. Captive birds have lived up to 24 years.

Range lifespan

Status: wild:
13 (high) years.

Range lifespan

Status: captivity:
24 (high) years.

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Lifespan/Longevity

The oldest reported wild bird was banded at almost 13 years old. Captive birds have lived up to 24 years. Estimates of annual survival are 48% in young birds and 61% in adults.

Range lifespan

Status: wild:
13 (high) years.

Range lifespan

Status: captivity:
24 (high) years.

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Lifespan, longevity, and ageing

Maximum longevity: 24 years
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Reproduction

Rose-breasted grosbeaks form mated pairs during breeding season. Pair bonds form in spring on the breeding grounds, when females approach territorial, singing males. Males use several kinds of courtship displays with females: the rapid warble flight and wing-fluff, both of which are accompanied by a warbling song. Warble flight involves the male flying slowly with his tail spread and with small movements of the wings, the wing-fluff involves the male holding his wings out to the side with his tail spread and moving his head and body from side to side as he hops on a branch.

Mating System: monogamous

Rose-breasted grosbeaks begin building nests in May and lay from 1 to 5 (usually 4) pale, bluish-green eggs speckled with darker colors. Nests are constructed in trees, shrubs, or vines and are made of loosely woven grass and twigs formed into cup-shapes. Generally 1 set of young is laid each year. Eggs hatch from 11 to 14 days after the beginning of incubation and young can fly after 9 to 12 days. The young are dependent on their parents for another 3 weeks after fledging and remain with the parents throughout the summer until migration. Young are able to breed in their first year after hatching.

Breeding interval: Rose-breasted grosbeaks breed once yearly, rarely attempting second broods.

Breeding season: Breeding occurs from mid-May through July throughout the range.

Range eggs per season: 1 to 5.

Average eggs per season: 4.

Range time to hatching: 11 to 14 days.

Average birth mass: 4.5 g.

Range fledging age: 9 to 12 days.

Average fledging age: 10 days.

Average time to independence: 3 weeks.

Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female): 1 years.

Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male): 1 years.

Key Reproductive Features: seasonal breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate)

Both females and males incubate the eggs, keep the young warm once hatched, and feed the young. Young are naked and helpless at hatching, with light down and weighing about 4.5 g. Parents feed nestlings up to 75% crushed insects. Young still depend on their parents for 3 weeks after they can fly and remain with them through their first summer.

Parental Investment: altricial ; pre-fertilization (Provisioning, Protecting: Female); pre-hatching/birth (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Male, Female); pre-weaning/fledging (Provisioning: Male, Female, Protecting: Male, Female); pre-independence (Provisioning: Male, Female, Protecting: Male, Female); post-independence association with parents

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Rose-breasted grosbeaks are monogamous, but no research has been done on extra-pair copulations. Pair bonds are formed in spring on the breeding grounds, when females approach territorial, singing males. Males may first reach aggressively towards females. Males use several kinds of courtship displays with females: the rapid warble flight and wing-fluff, both of which are accompanied by a warbling song. Warble flight involves the male flying slowly with his tail spread and with small movements of the wings, the wing-fluff involves the male holding his wings out to the side with his tail spread and moving his head and body from side to side as he hops on a branch.

Mating System: monogamous

Rose-breasted grosbeaks begin building nests in May and lay from 1 to 5 (usually 4) pale, bluish-green eggs speckled with darker colors. Nests are constructed in trees, shrubs, or vines from 0.8 to 16.8 m high. Nest are constructed of loosely woven grass and twigs formed into cup-shapes. Finer materials line the nest, such as shredded bark, pine needles, and fine grasses. Generally 1 brood is laid each year, although second broods are sometimes attempted. Females lay eggs about once per day until the clutch size is reached and begin incubating at the next to last egg laid. Eggs hatch asynchronously from 11 to 14 days after the beginning of incubation and young fledge after 9 to 12 days. The young are dependent on their parents for another 3 weeks after fledging and remain with the parents throughout the summer until migration. Young are able to breed in their first year after hatching.

Breeding interval: Rose-breasted grosbeaks breed once yearly, rarely attempting second broods.

Breeding season: Breeding occurs from mid-May through July throughout the range.

Range eggs per season: 1 to 5.

Average eggs per season: 4.

Range time to hatching: 11 to 14 days.

Average birth mass: 4.5 g.

Range fledging age: 9 to 12 days.

Average fledging age: 10 days.

Average time to independence: 3 weeks.

Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female): 1 years.

Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male): 1 years.

Key Reproductive Features: seasonal breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate)

Both females and males incubate the eggs and brood the young. Young are altricial at hatching, with light down and weighing about 4.5 g. Males and females both provide food for the young throughout their nestling period. They provide up to 75% crushed insects to the young.

Parental Investment: altricial ; pre-fertilization (Provisioning, Protecting: Female); pre-hatching/birth (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Male, Female); pre-weaning/fledging (Provisioning: Male, Female, Protecting: Male, Female); pre-independence (Provisioning: Male, Female, Protecting: Male, Female); post-independence association with parents

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Eggs are laid mostly in May-June. Clutch size is 3-5. Incubation lasts 12-14 days, by both sexes. Young are tended by both parents, leave nest at 9-12 days, dependent on adults for about 3 weeks more. Male may feed fledglings while female renests.

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Pheucticus ludovicianus

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


There are 4 barcode sequences available from BOLD and GenBank.  Below is a sequence of the barcode region Cytochrome oxidase subunit 1 (COI or COX1) from a member of the species.  See the BOLD taxonomy browser for more complete information about this specimen and other sequences.

GTGACATTCATTACTCGATGATTATTCTCAACCAACCACAAAGATATCGGGACACTGTACCTAATCTTCGGCGCATGAGCCGGAATAGTAGGTACTGCCCTAAGCCTCCTTATCCGAGCAGAATTAGGACAACCTGGAGCCCTCCTAGGAGACGACCAAGTTTACAACGTAGTCGTCACAGCCCATGCTTTCGTAATAATTTTCTTCATAGTTATACCAATTATAATCGGAGGGTTTGGAAACTGACTAGTCCCCCTAATAATTGGAGCCCCAGACATAGCATTCCCACGAATAAACAACATAAGCTTCTGACTTCTACCCCCATCCTTCCTACTCCTCCTAGCATCCTCTACAGTCGAAGCAGGTGCAGGTACAGGATGAACGGTATATCCACCATTAGCTGGTAACCTAGCCCATGCCGGAGCTTCAGTTGACCTAGCAATCTTCTCCCTACATCTAGCTGGTATCTCCTCAATCCTGGGAGCTATCAACTTCATCACAACAGCAATCAACATAAAACCCCCTGCCCTTTCACAATACCAAACCCCCCTATTCGTATGATCCGTATTAATCACCGCAGTACTACTTCTCCTCTCCCTTCCAGTGCTTGCCGCAGGCATTACAATGCTCCTTACAGACCGTAACCTCAATACTACATTCTTCGACCCTGCTGGAGGAGGAGACCCTGTGCTATACCAACACCTTTTCTGATTCTTCGGCCACCCAGAAGTCTACATCCTAATCCTACCAGGATTCGGAATCATCTCTCACGTCGTAACATACTACGCAGGCAAAAAAGAACCATTCGGCTACATGGGGATAGTATGAGCCATGCTATCCATCGGGTTCCTAGGCTTCATCGTCTGAGCCCACCACATGTTTACAGTAGGAATAGACGTTG
-- end --

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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Pheucticus ludovicianus

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 4
Specimens with Barcodes: 5
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
LC
Least Concern

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2012

Assessor/s
BirdLife International

Reviewer/s
Butchart, S. & Symes, A.

Contributor/s

Justification
This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is extremely large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
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Rose-breasted grosbeaks populations seem to be stable and they are not considered threatened at this point.

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: least concern

US Migratory Bird Act: protected

US Federal List: no special status

CITES: no special status

State of Michigan List: no special status

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Rose-breasted grosbeak populations seem to be stable, although there have been marginal declines in some areas. Individuals may die from collisions with buildings and towers during migration and forest succession towards mature forests may reduce available habitat for this species. The IUCN lists them as least concern because of their large population sizes and large range.

US Migratory Bird Act: protected

US Federal List: no special status

CITES: no special status

State of Michigan List: no special status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: least concern

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National NatureServe Conservation Status

Canada

Rounded National Status Rank: N5B - Secure

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: N5B - Secure

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure

Reasons: Widespread in central and eastern North America; common; stable population; no significant threats.

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Population

Population Trend
Decreasing
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Global Short Term Trend: Relatively stable (=10% change)

Comments: Breeding Bird Survey data indicate a significant population decline in eastern North America, 1978-1988, and a significant increase in western North America, 1966-1988 and 1978-1988 (Sauer and Droege 1992). BBS data for various states and regions in 1966-1994 indicate a mixture of increases, declines, and stable populations, with the overall North American population relatively stable.

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Threats

Degree of Threat: D : Unthreatened throughout its range, communities may be threatened in minor portions of the range or degree of variation falls within natural variation

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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

Rose-breasted grosbeaks occasionally take domestic crops, such as peas, corn, oats, and wheat.

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Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Rose-breasted grosbeaks are appreciated for their lovely song and the bright colors of the males. They are frequent visitors at bird-feeders.

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Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

Rose-breasted grosbeaks occasionally take domestic crops, such as peas, corn, oats, and wheat.

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Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Rose-breasted grosbeaks are appreciated for their lovely song and the bright colors of the males. They are frequent visitors at bird-feeders.

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Wikipedia

Rose-breasted Grosbeak

The Rose-breasted Grosbeak (Pheucticus ludovicianus) is a large insect-eating songbird in the cardinal family (Cardinalidae). It is primarily a foliage gleaner. It breeds in cool-temperate North America, migrating to tropical America in winter.[2]

Description[edit]

Immature male
Two males at feeder

Adult birds are 18–22 cm (7.1–8.7 in) long, span 29–33 cm (11–13 in) across the wings and weigh 35–65 g (1.2–2.3 oz), with an average of 46 g (1.6 oz).[3][4] At all ages and in both sexes, the beak is dusky horn-colored, and the feet and eyes are dark.[5]

The adult male in breeding plumage has a black head, wings, back and tail, and a bright rose-red patch on its breast; the wings have two white patches and rose-red linings. Its underside and rump are white. Males in nonbreeding plumage have largely white underparts, supercilium and cheeks. The upperside feathers have brown fringes, most wing feathers white ones, giving a scaly appearance. The bases of the primary remiges are also white.[2]

The adult female has dark grey-brown upperparts – darker on wings and tail –, a white supercilium, a buff stripe along the top of the head, and black-streaked white underparts, which except in the center of the belly have a buff tinge. The wing linings are yellowish, and on the upperwing there are two white patches like in the summer male. Immatures are similar, but with pink wing-linings and less prominent streaks and usually a pinkish-buff hue on the throat and breast. At one year of age—in their first breeding season—males are scaly above like fully adult males in winter plumage, and still retail the immature's browner wings.[6]

The song is a subdued mellow warbling, resembling a more refined version of the American Robin's (Turdus migratorius). Males start singing early, occasionally even when still in winter quarters. The call is a sharp pink or pick.[2]

Range and ecology[edit]

The Rose-breasted Grosbeak's breeding habitat is open deciduous woods across most of Canada and the northeastern USA. In particular the northern birds migrate south through the United States east of the Rocky Mountains, to winter from central-southern Mexico through Central America and the Caribbean to Peru and Venezuela. The southern limit of its wintering range is not well known; it was for example only recorded in the Serranía de las Quinchas (Colombia) in the 1990s. In winter, they prefer more open woodland, or similar habitat with a loose growth of trees, such as forest edges, parks, gardens and plantations, ranging from sea level into the hills, e.g. up to 5,000 ft (1,500 m) ASL in Costa Rica.[7]

The first birds leave the breeding grounds as early as August, while the last ones do not return until mid-late May. In general, however, they migrate south in late September or in October, and return in late April or early May. It appears as if they remain on their breeding grounds longer today than they did in the early 20th century, when migrants were more commonly seen in May and August than in April or September. The Rose-breasted Grosbeak occurs as a very rare vagrant in western Europe. [8]

It builds a twig nest in a tree or large shrub. The Rose-breasted Grosbeak forages in shrubs or trees for insects, seeds and berries, also catching insects in flight and occasionally eating nectar. It usually keeps to the treetops, and only rarely can be seen on the ground. During breeding it is fairly territorial; in winter, it roams the lands in groups of about a handful of birds, and sometimes in larger flocks of a dozen or more. In the winter quarters, they can be attracted into parks, gardens, and possibly even to bird feeders by fruit like Trophis racemosa. Other notable winter food includes Jacaranda seeds and the fruits of the introduced Busy Lizzy (Impatiens walleriana).[9]

Fires are necessary to maintain many kinds of grassland (see Fire ecology). Fire suppression in the late 20th century allowed forests to spread on the Great Plains into areas where recurring fire would otherwise have maintained grassland. This allowed hybridization with the Black-headed Grosbeak subspecies P. melanocephalus papago[10] Range expansions also seem also to have occurred elsewhere, for example in northern Ohio where it bred rarely if at all in the 1900s (decade), but it by no means an uncommon breeder today. In general, though it requires mature woodland to breed and is occasionally caught as a cage bird, the Rose-breasted Grosbeak is not at all rare, and not considered a threatened species by the IUCN.[1][11] Its maximum lifespan in the wild is 7.3 years.[12]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ a b BirdLife International (2012). "Pheucticus ludovicianus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c Stiles & Skutch (1989), Hilty (2003)
  3. ^ Rose-breasted Grosbeak, All about Birds
  4. ^ CRC Handbook of Avian Body Masses by John B. Dunning Jr. (Editor). CRC Press (1992), ISBN 978-0-8493-4258-5.
  5. ^ Olson et al. (1981), Stiles & Skutch (1989), Hilty (2003).
  6. ^ Stiles & Skutch (1989)
  7. ^ Olson et al. (1981), Stiles & Skutch (1989), Hilty (2003), Laverde-R. et al. (2005)
  8. ^ Henninger (1906), Stiles & Skutch (1989), Hilty (2003), OOS (2004)
  9. ^ Stiles & Skutch (1989), Hilty (2003), Foster (2007)
  10. ^ palpago is a lapsus in Rhymer & Simberloff (1996).
  11. ^ Henninger (1906), Stiles & Skutch (1989), Rhymer & Simberloff (1996), OOS (2004), BLI (2008)
  12. ^ Wasser, D. E.; Sherman, P. W. (2010). "Avian longevities and their interpretation under evolutionary theories of senescence". Journal of Zoology 280 (2): 103. doi:10.1111/j.1469-7998.2009.00671.x.  edit

References[edit]

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Names and Taxonomy

Taxonomy

Comments: Regarded as conspecific with P. MELANOCEPHALUS by a few authors and constitutes a superspecies with it (AOU 1998).

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