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Description of the Black-headed Grosbeak

BREEDING MALE

The Black-headed Grosbeak is a chunky bird, smaller than an American Robin, with a very thick bill and white patches in the wings.

Males have blackish heads, backs, and wings, with an orange nape, breast, belly, and rump.  Length: 8 in.  Wingspan: 12 in.


black-headed grosbeak

 

Black headed Grosbeak front vew gb
Photograph © Glenn Bartley.

 

Black headed Grosbeak black gb
Photograph © Glenn Bartley.

Female

Females are largely whitish below and brownish above with a buffy eyeline and grayish, two-tone bill.  Females very similar to female Rose-breasted Grosbeak.

black-headed grosbeak

Seasonal change in appearance

Winter birds resemble breeding birds but are paler and more mottled.

Juvenile

Juveniles and young birds resemble winter adults of the same gender.

Habitat

Black-headed Grosbeaks are found in a variety of both deciduous and mixed woodlands.

Diet

Black-headed Grosbeaks eat insects, seeds, and berries.

Behavior

Black-headed Grosbeaks forage primarily in trees and shrubs.

Range

Black-headed Grosbeaks breed throughout the western U.S., southwestern Canada, and much of Mexico. The population appears to be stable.

More information:

Bent Life History

Visit the Bent Life History for extensive additional information on the Black-headed Grosbeak.

Fun Facts

Unlike most birds, Black-headed Grosbeaks are able to eat monarch butterflies despite the toxins they contain.

Hybridization with Rose-breasted Grosbeaks has been reported where their ranges overlap.

Vocalizations

The song is a fast warble, and one common call is a sharp "pik.

Attracting

Attract Black-headed Grosbeaks by offering suet. Will also visit birdbaths.

Nesting

The nest is an open cup of twigs, weeds, and pine needles lined with finer materials. It is usually placed in a deciduous tree or shrub.

Number: 3-4.
Color: Greenish-blue in color with darker markings.

Incubation and fledging:
The young hatch at about 12-14 days, and leave the nest in another 11-12 days, though they continue to associate with the adults for some time.