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Description of the Black-headed Grosbeak


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.


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.


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


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


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


Black-headed Grosbeaks forage primarily in trees and shrubs.


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.


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


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


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.