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Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center

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Forest and Rangeland Birds of the United States

Natural History and Habitat Use

Pine Grosbeak -- Pinicola enucleator

RANGE: Breeds from western and central Alaska and northern Yukon east to northern Quebec and northern Labrador, south to central California and northern New Mexico, and, east of the Rockies, to northern Alberta, southern Ontario, and central Maine. Winters from central Alaska and southern Mackenzie east to Labrador and south throughout the breeding range; in invasion years occurs farther south.

STATUS: Locally common.

HABITAT: Inhabits coniferous forests near timberline in the western mountains, and northern spruce-fir forests up to treeline in Canada and Alaska. Also occurs in spruce stands bordering bogs, barren areas with clumps of dwarf spruce and tamarack, and mixed coniferous and deciduous woodlands. Prefers stands with large trees and low to intermediate canopy cover, usually near the edge of an open area or along a forest border.

SPECIAL HABITAT REQUIREMENTS: Coniferous forest of spruce-fir or pine.

NEST: Constructs nest in thick foliage near the end of a horizontal bough in conifers, often spruce, sometimes in underbrush. May place nest low in a conifer or up to 35 feet above the ground.

FOOD: Primarily eats buds and seeds of a variety of coniferous and deciduous trees, picked and gleaned from trees or from the ground. Also forages on some spiders and insects in spring and summer.

REFERENCES: Bent 1968a, Blake in Bent 1968a, DeGraff et al. 1980, Forbush and May 1955, Johnsgard 1979, Taber in Bent 1968a, Verner and Boss 1980.

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