Pine Grosbeak brings some colour in the snow

The Pine Grosbeak is truly a northern bird. It breeds all around the pole—in North America, Europe, and Asia. Even in winter, it stays well to the north, perhaps venturing only as far south as southern Ontario.
Sometimes large numbers move south and other times only a few. Apparently this is caused by variations in the food supply and not by the severity of the weather, as people used to think.
But mainly they just stay put and put up with 40-below weather—just like we do.
The Pine Grosbeak is a fairly large bird, perhaps the size of a robin. The male bird is quite distinctive, with a general overall colour of dark red. Its wings are dark with white bars.
Like all grosbeaks, the beak is thick and heavy.
The female is quite different from the male, being almost entirely brownish grey, with greenish yellow on head, neck, and rump. It also has the barred wings.
Pine Grosbeaks are quite tame. In some places, they are described as stupidly tame. You certainly can get quite close to them and, it seems, the simplest trap can fool them.
Although I have never kept any, it is said they adapt to captivity quite easily.
The male bird will sing all morning, and more or less during the whole day, in the spring. But just in case you may be tempted to try it, remember that songbirds are protected by law from both hunting and capture.
Bird feeders are not likely to attract these grosbeaks for very long, although they will come to them at times. Instead, they will gather in the ash trees, or in the Manitoba maples, to feed on the keys which hang on the trees all winter.
They also will look for rose hips, hawthorn fruits, crabapples, and the seeds of all evergreens. Their prime favourite—in some areas—in the Rowan, or Mountain Ash.
Pine Grosbeaks tend to drift around in small flocks, perhaps 50 or so. Often, they will park in a single tree, or clump of them, and then methodically take the seeds from that tree before they move on to another.
An incessant chatter of sweet, warbling notes surrounds them, whether they are feeding or flying. This is probably the first thing you would notice about these birds.
They also sing very well, with clear notes and phrases—sometimes described as one of the most beautiful songs in the northern bird world.
Watch for these birds. Almost every winter, they are found in Northern Ontario. Look for them in or near evergreens, or in any kind of deciduous tree which holds onto its fruit.
If they are flying, they go up and down as if they were riding some kind of an invisible wave. And they keep up a steady pattern of cheerful-sounding notes almost all of the time.
We have three grosbeaks in eastern Canada. The aristocratic Rose-breasted is here only in the summer. The familiar gold and black Evening can be found most of the time.
And our tame red singer, the Pine Grosbeak, Pinicula enucleator, is likely to be here only in the winter months.

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