Thursday, August 15, 2013

Pine Grosbeak

The pine grosbeak is the largest finch and found in the boreal (snowy winters and short summers) conifer (reproductive structures in cones, such as pines, firs, spruces, junipers and redwoods) forests of the northern hemisphere. It has a stubby curved bill, dark wings with two white cross bars, and a plump chest. Males have a pinkish to rose-red head, breast, back and rump. Males also have blackish brown wings and tail and white tertial (flight feather) edges and gray thighs, flanks and undertail coverlets.  
pine grosbeak in the Colorado moutains
They have a reputation of being very tame and approachable. When alarmed, they often stay hidden in foliage rather than flushing. This was my experience. I had climbed Mount Yale in central Colorado and was following the trail down through a pine forest at 10,000 to 11,000 feet of elevation when this beautiful red bird flew into a pine tree right in front of me. I pulled out my camera and the bird stayed within the tree, even as I changed positions trying to get better camera angles. 
In the U.S. they are found in the higher altitudes of the Sierra Nevada, eastern Arizona, northern New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho, Montana, parts of Washington, the Dakotas, Minnesota, New Hampshire, and Maine. They are also found in large parts of Canada, northern Europe and Russia.  

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