Rose-Breasted Grosbeak

Range and Density Map
Pheucticus ludovicianus

These birds winter in southern Mexico and south into northwestern South America. When spring comes, they migrate north to breed in territories with broad-leaf deciduous woodlands that stretch from New England and southeast Canada and west through the Great Lakes and northwest through southern Manitoba, central Saskatchewan, most of Alberta, a little in northeastern British Columbia and somewhat in south central Northwest Territories.

Many bird lovers consider the song of these birds to be the finest in the world and liken it to a robin with opera training! I’m more familiar with its western cousin, the Black-Headed Grosbeak, with whom it shares many traits (beauty of song, for one).

I first met this species in 2005, while driving through Canada on my way to Alaska, but I wasn’t able to capture its image. It was not until early June 2015 that I got my first photo of a vagrant female bird at Malheur NWR in Oregon. Finally, in March 2020, and again in the spring of 2021, I met them on South Padre Island as they migrated through south Texas on their way to their breeding grounds. I finally captured images of these birds in Canada during a long expedition I undertook in 2022. Northern Alberta provided the encounters I was looking for.

Modern taxonomists regard the Rose-Breasted Grosbeak as monotypic (i.e. there are no subspecies).

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