Get Ready for Rose-Breasted Grosbeaks

Learn what male, female and juvenile rose-breasted grosbeaks look like, what their song sounds like, what they eat and about their nests and eggs.

rose-breasted grosbeaks at a feederCourtesy Kirk Hatzmann
Rose-breasted grosbeaks visit a feeder

Male Rose-Breasted Grosbeak

To some birders, spotting a rose-breasted grosbeak is a definite sign of spring. Male rose-breasted grosbeaks are easy to identify, with their bold black and white feathers and a triangle of rose red on the breast. Check out the 5 grosbeaks backyard birders should know.

Female Rose-Breasted Grosbeak

Females are harder to identify because of their drab coloring. They are brown and white with a striped breast and a dark cheek patch. 

Bnbbyc17 Donna Sparks 2Courtesy Donna Sparks
Juvenile rose-breasted grosbeak

Juvenile Rose-Breasted Grosbeak

Immature males look like a blend of a female and male with a white eyebrow and a less visible chest patch.

Learn how to identify baby orioles and juvenile orioles.

Facts About Rose-Breasted Grosbeaks

Scientific Name: Pheucticus ludovicianus.
Family: Cardinal
Length: 8 inches
Wingspan: 12-1/2 inches

Rose Breasted Grosbeak Nest and Eggs

Not only will rose-breasted grosbeaks forage in trees and shrubs for food, they’ll often make nests there, too. Pairs build a lightly woven cup shaped nests made of twigs, grasses and leaves. The female lays up to five bluish or greenish speckled eggs. Both males and females spend time incubating the eggs and then quietly sing to each other. If a pair raises a second brood, the male may take charge of the first while his mate sits on the new eggs. Check out 9 proven tips to attract nesting birds.

What Do Rose-Breasted Grosbeaks Eat?

Rose-breasted grosbeaks mostly stick to foraging in the foliage of trees for seeds insects and fruit, but they will come to backyard feeders for black oil sunflower seed and safflower seed. Make sure your feeders are full during migration months, when they’ll need the most energy. Because of their appetite for insects and fruit, you’ll have a better chance of attracting these fliers if you plant berry-producing trees and shrubs. A few good options are mountain ash, blueberries and flowering dogwood.

Check out the 3 types of seeds and feeders birds love best.

Rose-Breasted Grosbeak Song

This bird’s song is similar to an American robin’s whistle, but faster and more varied.

Bird songs provided by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

Rose-Breasted Grosbeak Habitat and Range

Look for these birds in deciduous and mixed woods, also well-wooded residential areas and parks. They are primarily spotted in the eastern half of the country and are summer residents in northern states. Interestingly, they cross paths and sometimes mate with black-headed grosbeaks in the Great Plains, resulting in hybrid offspring.

Rose-breasted Grosbeak Bird SpeciesRange maps provided by Kaufman Field Guides, the official field guide of Birds & Blooms.

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Jill Staake
Jill lives in Tampa, Florida, and writes about gardening, butterflies, outdoor projects and birding. When she's not gardening, you'll find he reading, traveling and happily digging her toes into the sand on the beach.