The Rose-breasted Grosbeak (Pheucticus ludovicianus) is a sweet-singing songbird from the Cardinalidae family. Like many other birds in this group, males are more colorful than females, and they take their name from their vivid scarlet chests and massive seed-crushing bills.
These beautiful birds are always a welcome sight, and they are one species that all bird watchers should get a good look at. But where exactly do Rose-breasted Grosbeaks live?
Rose-breasted Grosbeaks are New-World birds that occur only in North and South America. They are neo-tropical migrants that breed in the northeast of the United States and Canada and overwinter in the Caribbean, Central America, and northern South America.
Rose-breasted Grosbeaks can be seen far outside their breeding range while migrating northwards. Birdwatchers from central Texas up through the Great Plains might spot these birds on their spring migration in May.
Read along to learn all about the distribution range and migratory habits of the Rose-breasted Grosbeak.
Rose-breasted Grosbeaks have a significant range across Canada and the US, during the breeding season
Rose-breasted Grosbeaks are distributed from Central Canada in the north to the northwest of South America in the south. They are migratory birds, so they do not occur throughout their range at all times of the year.
Their range includes the summer breeding grounds in Canada and the northeast of the United States and their overwintering grounds in the Caribbean, Mexico, and Central and South America. They can also be seen between their breeding and overwintering grounds on spring and fall migration.
Continue reading for a closer look at their American and Canadian distributions.
Rose-breasted Grosbeaks overwinter in the Caribbean, Mexico, Central and South America
Rose-breasted Grosbeaks can be seen in practically any state east of the Rocky Mountains while on migration. However, their breeding range is mostly limited to the Midwest and the Northeast.
Rose-breasted Grosbeaks breed in the following regions:
Many Rose-breasted Grosbeaks cross the border to breed in Canada. Most breed in the southeast, forming the northern boundary of the breeding population in the United States. However, many migrate into a more northwesterly breeding range that extends through central Saskatchewan and Alberta.
Birdwatchers can spot breeding Rose-breasted Grosbeaks in the following provinces:
Male and female Rose-breasted Grosbeaks at a backyard bird feeder
Rose-breasted Grosbeaks are most abundant in the great lakes region and surrounding areas during the breeding season. The highest densities occur in states like Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan, and the Canadian province of Ontario. Breeding birds are most common in young forests with plenty of saplings.
Read on to learn more about their preferred habitats and where you might spot these gorgeous birds.
Rose-breasted Grosbeaks prefer moist, well-wooded areas in the United States and Canada. They have a reasonably wide habitat tolerance but prefer deciduous woodlands for breeding. Fortunately, these birds have adapted to suburban areas and often visit backyard bird feeders.
Look out for them in the following habitats:
Woodlands are one of the best places to spot Rose-breasted Grosbeaks
Rose-breasted Grosbeaks are common birds in their preferred habitat and at the right time of year. Their numbers have declined over the last seventy years or so, but they still occur in good numbers and can be abundant in some areas.
Rose-breasted Grosbeaks are widespread in the northeastern parts of the United States. Look out for these beautiful birds in wooded areas from early May to mid-October. They favor young forest or woodland edge habitats that border open areas like rivers, roads, and clearings.
Rose-breasted Grosbeaks utter a wonderful, robin-like song throughout the day during the breeding season. Singing generally peaks in the early morning and late afternoon, and colorful males can be rather conspicuous when they call from high perches.
Male Rose-breasted Grosbeak in flight
Rose-breasted Grosbeaks are diurnal. They come out to forage in the morning and return to roost in the evening. However, they fly at night during their annual migrations.
Rose-breasted Grosbeaks are complete migrants. That means all of the birds in the global population move between separate breeding and overwintering grounds each year. However, individuals often return to the same local areas in America in subsequent years.
Early banding studies revealed that a high proportion of Rose-breasted Grosbeaks return to the same breeding areas year after year. The same birds often return to feed at backyard bird feeders, further indicating their site fidelity during the breeding season.
It remains unknown whether individuals overwinter in the same areas each year.
Rose-breasted Grosbeak male bathing in water, Marion County, Illinois
Rose-breasted Grosbeaks overwinter in the warm tropical and sub-tropical regions of Mexico, Central, and South America. In the winter, they live in various wooded habits, ranging from relatively dry forests to moist woodlands. They can be found at altitudes from near sea level to over 12,000 feet.
Look out for overwintering Grosbeaks in the following regions:
Rose-breasted Grosbeaks clearly don’t enjoy the cold. These migratory birds survive winter by simply avoiding the harsh conditions of the north. They head south each fall to enjoy the warm weather of Central and South America.
Female Rose-breasted Grosbeak perched on a log, deep in a boreal forest, Quebec, Canada
Summer is the breeding season for Rose-breasted Grosbeaks. They spend the warmer months in the forests, woodlands, and suburbs of the northeastern United States and southern and central Canada.
Male and female Rose-breasted Grosbeaks are territorial on their spring and summer breeding grounds, so you’re not likely to see them in large groups. However, they can be more gregarious when on migration and while overwintering.
They are known to migrate in small groups, and flocks of up to fifty birds have been spotted in South America.
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