Rose-breasted grosbeak

Expand all

More names for this bird

The Dakota and Anishinaabe were among the earliest people to name Minnesota’s plants and animals, as well as to understand them in relation to Minnesota’s climate and seasons. Those original names are still in use, and several are included on the Season Watch website. However, complete translations were not available.

Latin (or scientific name): Pheucticus ludovicianus

The scientific community has a convention of assigning agreed-upon Latin names to every kind of organism. Using scientific names helps people communicate confidently about the same organism and organize lifeforms based on how closely related they are.

Rose-breasted grosbeak eating at a feeder.

Video by Ryan T via YouTube

About the rose-breasted grosbeak

  • The rose-breasted grosbeak is a medium-sized, stocky songbird with a square tail. Its large triangular bill is great for cracking seed shells.
  • Both males and females sing a song similar to the American robin, but considered more melodious.
  • Roughly half of their diet consists of insects, and the remainder includes berries, seeds (including sunflower and safflower), tree flowers and tree buds.
  • Rose-breasted grosbeaks migrate. Expand the "Migration animation" section below to learn more.

Expand all

Migration animation

Click the full-frame icon (lower right corner of video) to play at full size.

Video file

More about eBird's abundance animations

eBird data from 2006-2020. Estimated for 2020. Fink, D., T. Auer, A. Johnston, M. Strimas-Mackey, O. Robinson, S. Ligocki, W. Hochachka, L. Jaromczyk, C. Wood, I. Davies, M. Iliff, L. Seitz. 2021. eBird Status and Trends, Data Version: 2020; Released: 2021. Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York.

Visual guide to phenology

Watch for changes in rose-breasted grosbeaks' presence (or absence), abundance, and behaviors at different times of year. Also, pay attention to seasonal plumages and when young-of-year appear and develop.

Expand all

Note to observers

This page explains general clues to watch and listen for when observing rose-breasted grosbeak phenology. However, this page does not explain how to identify this bird or collect data in a standardized way.

Pair of rose-breasted grosbeaks. The male is red, white, and black. The female is brown and white. Both have large pink bills.
Female rose-breasted grosbeak on a nest, the scene is partly obscured by dense vegetation.
Perched in an oak, this male rose-breasted grosbeak has its bill open, singing. Background is a bright blue sky.
Recently fledged grosbeak has downy plumes near its eyes, and its flight feathers are not yet fully formed.
A fledged grosbeak begs to be fed by adult. Green foliage partly obscures the scene.
Rose-breasted grosbeak at a feeder. Its fall plumage is more muted and with less contrast compared to spring plumage.

Audio resources

Visit All About Birds for recordings of songs and calls by rose-breasted grosbeaks.

Graphs and historical data

Note: The Orientation Center provides a map, as well as information on reading graphs; interpreting summary statistics, who collected the data and how; and how to download datasets for independent exploration.

Sherburne County


  • Earliest: May 1 (occurred in 2012)
  • Average: May 11
  • Latest: May 18 (occurred in 1996)
Scatterplot showing rose-breasted grosbeak phenology observations in Sherburne County, Minnesota

Download this dataset (.csv file)


Co-author: Jayme Hogan, Minnesota Master Naturalist