The Pine Grosbeak, Pinicola enucleator, is a large finch. It is the only member of its genus, Pinicola. It is found in coniferous woods across Canada, Alaska and the western mountains of the United States, and in northern Fennoscandia. Its diet consists mainly of seeds, buds, berries and insects.
The Pine Grosbeak is the only member of its genus and represents an ancient divergence of the ancestors of the bullfinches (Arnaiz-Villena et al., 2001), diverging perhaps a dozen mya during the Clarendonian. Given that the radiation of the bullfinches (which are only found in Eurasia) and the mountain finches (also closely related: Marten & Johnson, 1986) started approximately at the same time in the interior of Asia, it is possible that the Pine Grosbeak evolved in North America; possibly, its ancestors were wind-blown individuals of a proto-bullfinch which arrived via the northern Pacific as at that time the Bering Land Bridge was widely inundated.
Female Pine Grosbeak
Adults have a long forked black tail, black wings with white wing bars and a large bill. Adult males have a rose red head, back and rump. Adult females are olive-yellow on the head and rump and grey on the back and underparts.
Distribution and habitat
The breeding habitat of the Pine Grosbeak is coniferous woods across Canada, Alaska and the western mountains of the United States, and in northern Fennoscandia. They nest on a horizontal branch or in a fork of a conifer. This bird is a permanent resident through most of its range; in the extreme north or when food sources are scarce, they may migrate further south. This species is a very rare vagrant to western Europe.
Ecology and Behavior
The Pine Grosbeak forages in trees and bushes. It mainly eats seeds, buds, berries and insects. Outside of the nesting season, it often feeds in flocks.