grosbeak (grōsˈbēk) [key] [great beak], common name for various members of the family Fringillidae (finch family). Grosbeaks are characterized by their large conical bills. The male rose-breasted grosbeak ( Zamelodia ludoviciana ) is striking with its white bill and summer plumage of black and white accented by a rose-red breast. Sometimes called potato-bug bird, it destroys these and other insects. The pine grosbeak of the Old and New Worlds, the largest of the finches, feeds on conifer seeds and wild fruits; the western, or black-headed, grosbeak is an enemy of scale insects, codling moths, and flower beetles. The eastern, or evening, grosbeak is metallic yellow with black and white wings and tail. The common European grosbeak is the hawfinch. Grosbeaks are classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Aves, order Passeriformes, family Fringillidae.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.