Monday, February 13, 2012

Pine Grosbeak

This weekend two friends and I spent the weekend searching northern Minnesota's Sax-Zim Bog. This wild area, northwest of Duluth, is named for two small towns and is famous among birders as a good location Northern Hawk Owls and Great Gray Owls. A host of other infrequently seen birds inhabit the area.

We first found Pine Grosbeaks. A photograph of the male is above, a female below. These are large finches with small heads. They breed across the coniferous forests of northern Canada, south into the Rocky Mountains of the United States. They are annual winter visitors to northern Minnesota, but some years they are more common than others. Only during exceptional winters are they seen in southern Minnesota. Annual numbers fluctuate less dramatically than do many other winter finches. In fact, western populations apparently do not fluctuate or migrate (Adkisson 1999). Pine Grosbeaks feed on many tree buds and are often found at bird feeders.

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