Black-headed Grosbeak Description and Facts

Black-headed Grosbeak

The black-headed grosbeak, scientific name Pheucticus melanocephalus is a medium-sized, seed-eating bird in the identical family because of the northern cardinal, the Cardinalidae.

Black-headed grosbeak

It’s generally thought-about conspecific with the rose-breasted grosbeak (P. ludovicianus) with which it hybridizes on the American Nice Plains.

The black-headed Grosbeak is a medium-sized songbird with quick, thick payments. The male is putting, with a blackhead, rusty-orange breast, nape, and rump, black again, wings, and tail, and white patches on its wings.

The under-wing linings are yellow, and the outer tail feathers are white; each of those could be seen in flight.

The feminine is drab and streaked, but in addition, it has yellow under-wing linings. She has a darkish crown, a white line above the attention and beneath the cheek, and two white wing-bars on every wing.

First-year males are streaked like females however have extra orangey underparts.

The 19 cm (7.5 in) lengthy, 47 g (1.7 oz) black-headed grosbeak is a migratory chicken, with nesting grounds from southwestern British Columbia, via the western half of America, into central Mexico.

It happens as a vagrant additional south in Central America.

Black-headed Grosbeak breeds from southwestern Canada east to western North Dakota and Nebraska, and south to the mountains of Mexico.

Spends winters in Mexico. Most well-liked habitats embody open, deciduous woodlands close to water, similar to river bottoms, lakeshores, and swampy locations with a combination of timber and shrubs.

Black-headed grosbeak Description

The black-headed grosbeak’s approximate size is 18–19 cm (7.1–7.5 in); it’s related in dimension to a standard starling.

As per its title, the male has a blackhead and black wings, and a tail with outstanding white patches. Its breast is darkish to tawny orange in color, and its stomach is yellow.

The feminine has a brown head, neck, and again with sparrow-like black streaks. She additionally has white streaks down the center of her head, over her eyes, and on her cheeks.

Her breast is white, and her wings and tail are grayish-brown with two white wing bars and yellowish wing edges.

Black-headed grosbeak Habitat

The black-headed grosbeak prefers to stay in deciduous and combined wooded areas.

It likes to be in areas with giant timber and thick bushes, similar to patches of broadleaved timber and shrubs inside conifer forests, together with streamside corridors, river bottoms, lakeshores, wetlands, and suburban areas.

Black-headed Grosbeaks are sometimes present in broadleaved or combined forests, and particularly in brushy, riparian areas.

They’re typically not present in coniferous vegetation, however, they will inhabit patches of broadleaved timber and shrubs inside conifer forests, together with streamside corridors, wetlands, and suburban areas.

Black-headed grosbeak Nesting

Females construct nests among the many dense foliages on an outer department of tall broadleaved timber or shrubs, 3–35 ft (0.91–10.67 m) above the floor.

They sometimes construct in dense shrubs similar to a blackberry. The nest is within the form of an open saucer, the product of effective grass, rootlets, twigs, bark, and conifer needles. It’s typically lined with rootlets, hair, and effective plant materials.

The feminine lays two to 5 pale inexperienced, blue, or grey eggs which are noticed with reddish and darkish brown. The eggs are incubated by the female and male for 12–14 days.

After the eggs have hatched, the fledglings go away from the nest in about 11 or 12 days, however, they’re unable to fly for an additional two weeks.

The younger are fed by each adult. The black-headed grosbeak’s monogamy is beneath research, however pair bonds typically final for just one breeding season.

They sometimes have one brood per season, although two broods have been documented in foothills of the Sacramento Valley in California.


The feminine of this species appears to be just like the feminine of the rose-breasted grosbeak and is greatest separated on geographical vary.

The grosbeak’s track is a wealthy warble that’s just like that of an American robin, however extra fluent, sooner, softer, sweeter, and mellow with rising and falling passages that make the track for much longer than the robin’s.

The observe is a pointy ik or eek. Each female and male sing, however, have totally different songs.

Black-headed grosbeak diet

The black-headed grosbeak eats pine and different seeds, berries, bugs and spiders, and fruit. Throughout the summer season, it largely eats spiders, snails, and bugs.

It is likely one of the few birds that may safely eat the toxic monarch butterfly. Of their wintering grounds, this grosbeak consumes many monarchs and lots of seeds.

It involves chicken feeders for sunflower and different forms of seed, and fruit, and in addition, joins northern orioles at feeders with grape jelly.

On the wintering grounds, Black-headed Grosbeaks eat many seeds. Throughout the summer season, they eat bugs, spiders, snails, and berries.

The Black-headed Grosbeak is likely one of the few birds that can eat monarch butterflies, regardless of the noxious chemical compounds that the monarchs accumulate from their milkweed weight-reduction plan. Black-headed Grosbeaks eat many monarchs on their wintering grounds.

black-headed grosbeak Facts

The Black-headed Grosbeak is likely one of the few birds that may safely eat the toxic monarch butterfly.

Their nests are so thinly constructed that eggs could be seen via the underside. Nonetheless, nests are much less skinny in northern California. Skinny nests might present airflow and assist hold them cool.

They hybridize with their eastern counterpart, the Rose-breasted Grosbeak, alongside their mutual boundary.

This case arose when the treeless prairies, which as soon as fashioned a barrier between the 2, grew to become dotted with cities and homesteads, offering appropriate habitats for each species.

A gaggle of grosbeaks is collectively often called a “gross” of grosbeaks.

black-headed grosbeak Variation and migration

Black-headed grosbeaks vary from the Pacific Coast to the center of the US Nice Plains and from southwestern Canada to the mountains of Mexico.

US and Canadian birds are extremely migratory, wintering in Mexico. Within the Nice Plains, the vary of the black-headed grosbeak and the rose-breasted grosbeak overlap and so they have interbred considerably.

After the breeding season, they have a tendency to hunt out berry-rich areas. They migrate south early within the fall and return to the north late within the spring and have been identified to take action in flocks.

black-headed grosbeak Behavior

Black-headed grosbeaks often sing from outstanding perches. Each the female and male sing, however, have totally different songs, and each is identified to sing from the nest whereas incubating.

When making an attempt to court docket a feminine, males fly with their wings and tails unfold.

They forage within the foliage, on the bottom, or in low vegetation and are outstanding berry eaters. When feeding the chicks sing to their mum rustling wings and displaying their yellow under-feathers.

Black-headed Grosbeaks sing their robin-like track from conspicuous perches and forage within the foliage.

In addition, they forage on the bottom or in low vegetation. Throughout courtship, males fly with their wings and tails unfold. Each sex sing, however, has totally different songs.

The birdcall is simply pleasant. The chick sings to its mum calling for meals; seeds she’s cracked open and shelled.

Black-headed Grosbeak

Black-headed grosbeak Nesting

The Black-headed Grosbeak is monogamous, however pair bonds final for just one breeding season.

The feminine builds the nest on an outer department of a small willow, alder, big-leafed maple, cottonwood, or different broadleaved tree or shrub.

The nest is a cumbersome, open cup product of twigs, weeds, rootlets, and needles, lined with rootlets, hair, and effective plant materials. Each sex assists incubate 2-5 eggs for 12-14 days.

They each brood the younger for a few weeks, and each convey meals to the nest. The younger go away the nest at 10-14 days however cannot fly for an additional two weeks.

The adults proceed to feed the younger till after they’ll fly, and lift just one brood 12 months.

Migration Standing

Black-headed Grosbeaks are extremely migratory and winter in Mexico. After the breeding season, they wander into berry-rich areas and should type migrating flocks presently. They migrate early within the fall and return late within the spring.

Black-headed grosbeak Conservation Standing

In line with the Breeding Chook Survey, the inhabitants of Black-headed Grosbeaks in Washington have elevated considerably since 1966. They profit from some human exercise on the breeding grounds.

Suburban improvement and logging typically enhance the quantity of broadleaved vegetation within the coniferous-dominated Pacific Northwest, and the growing numbers of orchards in eastern Washington have offered extra habitat as properly. Growth creates habitat to some extent, however growing urbanization reduces out their habitat.

Black-headed Grosbeaks should not present in typical suburbs, however in additional outlying areas which are nonetheless semi-rural. These birds want a sure density of huge deciduous timber.

The Black-headed Grosbeak is a small migratory chicken that lives in a variety, spanning from southwestern British Columbia to the western half of America, to central Mexico and barely Central America.

Throughout the winter months, this species sometimes flies to Mexico to dine on the toxic Monarch butterfly and berries. This species has an affinity for deciduous and combined woodlands, favoring areas with giant timber and quite a few shrubs.

Their regular weight-reduction plan consists of pine trees and different seeds, berries, spiders, bugs, and fruit.

The Black-headed Grosbeak has estimated inhabitants of 14 million, and a conservation standing of Least Concern.

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