Rose-Breasted Grosbeak

Rose-Breasted Grosbeak (Pheucticus ludovicianus)

rose-breasted grosbeak

Rose-breasted grosbeak./T. Berriman

General: The males of this stockily built migratory songbird are brightly colored with black, white, and red; the females are drab and streaked with brown. Rose-breasted grosbeaks use a range of habitats, including young forest. For breeding, they like areas of thick, dense shrubs beneath small openings in the forest canopy overhead. Nests are usually built in the fork of a sapling or a shrub. Rose-breasted grosbeaks feed on seeds, wild fruits, and insects. In aspen forests in the Upper Midwest, one study found that these birds reached their greatest numbers in stands where the trees were 1.9 to 4 meters tall.

Status: Although rose-breasted grosbeaks are still generally common and widespread, their population has fallen by about one third over the last 50 years. This decline may come about from forests maturing so that less low-level shrubby habitat is available for nesting and food-finding. Eight eastern states list the rose-breasted grosbeak as a Species of Greatest Conservation Need.

How to Help Rose-Breasted Grosbeaks: Research on songbird populations in forested areas suggests that rose-breasted grosbeaks respond positively to clearcut timber harvests and reach their highest numbers in young, regenerating forest stands. Clearcuts mimic natural disturbances, such as fires and floods, by removing mature trees and opening up the ground to sunlight, causing shrubs and lower plants to thrive.
Both public and private landowners can make young forest habitat. The Young Forest Guide explains how.

Click on the map at left to see a larger image.

For more detailed information on the rose-breasted grosbeak, including references to scientific papers, download Under Cover: Wildlife of Shrublands and Young Forest. This publication can also be purchased from the Wildlife Management Institute.

Visit a habitat demonstration area within this species' range to increase your chances of seeing rose-breasted grosbeaks and other wildlife that need young forest.