Pinicola enucleator leucura, P. e. montana

Status:  Rare casual winter visitor statewide.

Documentation:  Specimens: montana, UNSM ZM10416, 30 Nov 1910 Crawford, Dawes Co; leucura, UNSM ZM7127, 29 Nov 1932 Lancaster Co.

Taxonomy:  Various authorities recognize 9-11 subspecies, four of which occur in Eurasia, leaving 5-7 that occur in North America. Here we follow Clements et al (2016), who recognize seven North American subspecies: alascensis, breeding in northwest Alaska to northwest Mackenzie and northeast British Columbia, wintering to northwest USA, flammula, breeding from southern Alaska to northwest British Columbia, wintering to northwest USA, carlottae, resident from Queen Charlotte Island to Vancouver Island, montana, resident from central British Columbia to the Rocky Mountains of the southwest USA, californica, resident in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California, leucura, breeding in central and eastern Canada, wintering south to the northeast USA, and eschatosa, breeding in central Quebec and Newfoundland to New England,

Subspecies that might be expected to occur in Nebraska are alascensis, flammula, montana, and leucura. Bruner et al (1904) listed leucura as occurring in Nebraska, as did AOU (1957), citing a record at Neligh, Antelope Co, and Rapp et al (1958) stated that leucura had occurred “as far west as Grand Island and Long Pine.”    Bruner et al (1904) assumed that montana might occur in Nebraska; Rapp et al (1958) noted that montana had been “reported from the Panhandle region”, while AOU (1957) confirmed that montana wintered to western Nebraska.

Winter:  Nov 5, 6, 7 <<<>>> Apr 28, May 7, 7

Fall arrival dates cluster in early Nov and spring departure dates in early to mid-Mar.  There are earlier fall reports 11 Oct 1966 Lincoln Co and 30 Oct 1932 Adams Co and later spring reports 16 May 1938 Lincoln Co, 22 May 1988 a well-described female Scotts Bluff Co (Cortelyou 1988), 28 May 1943 Logan Co, and 10 Jun 2000, a male at Wildcat Hills NC, Scotts Bluff Co.

No irruptions have taken place since the early 1970s and since 1980 there have been only two winters with more than one report, 2012-2013 and 2015-2016 (see below). Adkisson (2020) noted that most Pine Grosbeaks winter within the breeding range and movements are generally triggered by scarcity of food supplies; the paucity of reports in Nebraska since 1980 suggests winters warm enough since then to obviate eruptions. Pine Grosbeak may breed sporadically in the Black Hills of South Dakota, although breeding has not been proven (Tallman et al 2002). Faulkner (2010) observed that birds that wintered in lower-elevation riparian areas “not unusually” remained into May.

Most Nebraska reports are from “invasion” winters, including 1910-11, 1932-33 (many reports), 1962-63, 1963-64, 1966-67, 1969-70 (many reports), and 1970-71. The species was described as “numerous” in Dodge Co in winter 1946-47, through May, and there were a few reports in Adams Co during the invasion winter 1932-33 (Jorgensen 2012).

The reports from winter 2012-2013 are of a female late fall 2012- 28 Jan 2013 Dakota Co (Brogie 2014), one was reported in Lancaster Co 7 Feb, and one was in Seward Co Jan-15 Feb (Silcock 2013). In 2015-2016, a female or immature was seen by many at Forest Lawn Cemetery, Omaha, Douglas Co 19 Dec- 9 Feb 2015-2016 (Brogie 2016, 2017) and three were reported in Lancaster Co 1 Feb 2016 (, accessed April 2018; not accepted by NOURC, Brogie 2017). A surprising report was of eight birds at a Loup Co feeder 25 Mar 2017 (Brogie 2018).

Outside of these two recent winters, there are these reports since 1980, scattered statewide: three on the Harlan County Reservoir CBC 14-15 Dec 2019 (Brogie 2020), 19 Dec 2004 female Lancaster Co (Brogie 2006), 18 Dec 1983 Lincoln Co, 20 Dec 2004 male Grant, Perkins Co (Brogie 2005), 29 Dec 2000 Lincoln Co (Jorgensen 2002), 11 Feb 2015 “russet-headed” female or juvenile Furnas Co (Silcock 2015) and 22 May 1988 Scotts Bluff Co (Cortelyou 1988, see below). A report of 3-5 at Wildcat Hills NC, Scotts Bluff Co 30 May 2011 was undocumented (, accessed April 2018).


NC: Nature Center
UNSM: University of Nebraska State Museum


Photograph (top) of a Pine Grosbeak at Forest Lawn Cemetery, Douglas Co 24 Dec 2015 by Michael Willison.

Literature Cited

Adkisson, C.S. 2020. Pine Grosbeak (Pinicola enucleator), version 1.0. In Birds of the World (P. G. Rodewald, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA.

American Ornithologists’ Union [AOU]. 1957. The AOU Check-list of North American birds, 5th ed.  Port City Press, Baltimore, Maryland, USA.

Brogie, M.A. 2005. 2004 (16th) Report of the NOU Records Committee. NBR 73: 78-84.

Brogie, M.A. 2006. 2005 (17th) Report of the NOU Records Committee. NBR 74: 69-74.

Brogie, M.A. 2014. 2013 (25th) Report of the NOU Records Committee. NBR 82: 131-146.

Brogie, M.A. 2016. 2015 (27th) Report of the NOU Records Committee. NBR 84: 138-150.

Brogie, M.A. 2017. 2016 (28th) Report of the NOU Records Committee. NBR 85: 128-142.

Brogie, M.A. 2018. 2017 (29th) Report of the NOU Records Committee. NBR 86: 131-142.

Brogie, M.A. 2020. 2019 (31st) Report of the NOU Records Committee. NBR 88: 124-134.

Bruner, L., R.H. Wolcott, and M.H. Swenk. 1904. A preliminary review of the birds of Nebraska, with synopses. Klopp and Bartlett, Omaha, Nebraska, USA.

Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2016. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2016, accessed 30 January 2018.

Cortelyou, R.G. 1988. 1988 (Sixty-third) Spring Occurrence Report. NBR 56: 54-77.

Faulkner, D.W. 2010. Birds of Wyoming. Roberts and Company, Greenwood Village, Colorado, USA.

Jorgensen, J.G. 2002. 2002 (sic; =2000). (12th) Report of the NOU Records Committee. NBR 70: 84-90.

Jorgensen, J.G. 2012.  Birds of the Rainwater Basin, Nebraska.  Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, Lincoln, Nebraska, USA.

Rapp, W.F. Jr., J.L.C. Rapp, H.E. Baumgarten, and R.A. Moser. 1958. Revised checklist of Nebraska birds. Occasional Papers 5, Nebraska Ornithologists’ Union, Crete, Nebraska, USA.

Silcock, W.R. 2013. Winter Field Report, December 2012 to February 2013. NBR 81: 2-20.

Silcock, W.R. 2015. Winter Field Report, December 2014 to February 2015. NBR 83: 3-21.

Tallman, D.A., Swanson, D.L., and J.S. Palmer. 2002. Birds of South Dakota. Midstates/Quality Quick Print, Aberdeen, South Dakota, USA.

Tout, W. 1947. Lincoln County birds. Published by the author, North Platte, Nebraska, USA.

Recommended Citation

Silcock, W.R., and J.G. Jorgensen.  2021.  Pine Grosbeak (Pinicola enucleator). In Birds of Nebraska — Online.

Birds of Nebraska – Online

Updated 17 Mar 2021