|Species: Evening Grosbeak
Grosbeak is a stocky, heavy-billed finch of northern coniferous
forests. An irruptive migrant across much of its range, it makes
roughly biannual appearances at winter feeding stations throughout
much of the coterminous United States. Often moving in large flocks,
this boldly colored bird with the massive bill is difficult for
observers to miss.
Evening Grosbeak is a large and brightly colored finch and a
noticeable winter visitor to bird feeders during irruption years in
some winters when it may wander as far south as the southern U.S.
Large finch with
robust proportions. Massive bill and distinctive plumage
characteristics separate Evening Grosbeak from most other species
within its range. Total length 16.5–18.0 cm; mass 53–74 g. Tail
relatively short, slightly notched. Massive conical bill pale
greenish yellow (color more intense in spring). Plumages do not
change throughout the year.
Male has brownish-black head with black crown and distinctive yellow
forehead and supercilium. Dark brown nape and back give way to
yellow scapulars and rump. Upper tail-coverts black. Wings and tail
black with large white wing patch on inner coverts and tertials.
Brownish throat and upper breast give way to brownish-yellow
Female head and upperparts mostly grayish brown, with weak black
malar stripe and yellowish wash on sides of neck. Upper tail-coverts
black with white spotting. Wings and tail black with white and gray
wing patch on inner coverts and tertials, smaller white panel across
base of inner primaries, outer rec-trices white-tipped. Throat and
underparts pale grayish brown, with white under tail-coverts.
Juveniles resemble adult females.
Bramblign Fringilla montifringilla but different distribution and
During the breeding season, this species is quite secretive, and
courtship occurs without elaborate song or display. This
secretiveness, together with a spare, flimsy nest placed high in a
tree, makes it a difficult subject of study. As a result,
comparatively little is known of the species’ life history.
Breeding: common in mixed-conifer and spruce forests, less common in
pine Less closely tied to coniferous tree species than other
carduelines—also uses deciduous species for nesting and food.
The breeding range
of the Evening Grosbeak underwent a significant expansion in
historic times. The contemporary scientific literature documented
eastward movement, with the species regularly appearing in areas
east of its known range, perhaps a result of the establishment of
box elder (Acer negundo) in eastern cities as an ornamental
planting. The abundant seeds of the box elder persist on the tree
through the winter, providing a stable food supply. Outbreaks of
forest insects may also have allowed this bird to extend its
breeding range to the east. The Evening Grosbeak was an object of
much interest from the late 1800s to the mid-1900s, largely as a
part of natural history and banding studies resulting from its
eastward range expansion. Comparatively few recent studies have been
conducted—surprising considering the species’ extensive range.
BC Yellow, COSEWIC
n/a, Global G5 (1996) Killed in collisions with residential windows
in approximate proportion to their presence at feeders in winter;
Evening Grosbeak accounted for 3.3% of individuals present and 3.7%
of individuals killed in continent-wide survey. Large numbers
sometimes killed by vehicles when flocks are attracted to grit and
salt on roads. At least 2,000 dead adults on 16-km stretch of
highway in British Columbia, with many more dead off-road (Smith