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Description of the Evening Grosbeak

BREEDING MALE

The Evening Grosbeak is somewhat stocky, with an extremely thick, olive colored bill.  Its black wings have white secondaries which form large white patches visible both in flight and while perched.

Males have blackish heads with a yellow line above the eye. The upperparts and breast are brownish, with yellow underparts, rump and lower back.  Length: 8 in.  Wingspan: 14 in.

Evening Grosbeak

 

Evening Grosbeak m gb
Photograph © Glenn Bartley.

 

Evening Grosbeak f gb
Photograph © Glenn Bartley.

Female

Females are mostly gray to gray brown, except for the black and white wings.

Seasonal change in appearance

None.

Juvenile

Juveniles are similar to adult females.

 

Evening Grosbeak

Habitat

Evening Grosbeaks breed in coniferous forests, but winter in a variety of woodlands.

Diet

Primarily seeds, but also some insects and berries.  Flocks of Evening Grosbeaks can empty bird feeders full of sunflower seeds very rapidly.

Behavior

Evening Grosbeaks forage mostly in trees or on bird feeders, and are usually in flocks during the nonbreeding season.

Range

Evening Grosbeaks breed in Canada and parts of the western U.S. and Mexico, and winter, at least sporadically, over large parts of the U.S. Its population has declined in recent decades.

More information:

Bent Life History

Visit the Bent Life History for extensive additional information on the Evening Grosbeak.

Wing Shape

The shape of a bird's wing is often an indication of its habits and behavior. Fast flying birds have long, pointed wings. Soaring birds have long, broad wings. Different songbirds will have a slightly different wing shape. Some species look so much alike (Empidonax flycatchers) that scientists sometimes use the length of specific feathers to confirm a species' identification.

Wing images from the University of Puget Sound, Slater Museum of Natural History

Fun Facts

Until the 1900s, the Evening Grosbeak was a bird of the western U.S., though it has since expanded eastward and now breeds across parts of the northeastern U.S. and southeastern Canada.

The Evening Grosbeak is irruptive in winter, common in some years and rare in others across much of the U.S.

Vocalizations

Calls include a high trill and a low rattle.

Nesting

The nest is an open cup of twigs lined with grasses or pine needles, and usually placed on a horizontal branch of a conifer.

Number: Usually lay 3-4 eggs.
Color: Pale bluish or bluish-green with darker markings.

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