Description 7 1/2 - 8 1/2" Stocky finch with a
very large, pale greenish or yellowish conical bill.
Female similar but grayer. They have black wings
than the males. They also have yellow underwings.
Juveniles look similar to females.
In spring the outer coating of the bill peels off,
exposing the blue-green color beneath.
Habitat Evening Grosbeaks breed in mixed
conifer forests, but will used broadleaved trees for
nesting and foraging. During migration and winter
they are often found in open, broadleaved forests,
especially ones with fruiting shrubs.
Diet Large seeds, especially ash, maple, and
sunflower seeds from bird feeders, make up most
of the Evening Grosbeak's diet. They also eat
invertebrates, especially spruce budworm.
Nesting Evening Grosbeaks are generally
monogamous, although when there is an unusually
plentiful food supply, polygamy can occur. In most
cases, pairs form before the birds arrive on the
Nests are typically located high up in trees, on
horizontal branches well out from the trunk or in
vertical forks. The female builds the nest, which is a
loose saucer of roots and twigs lined with fine
grass, moss, rootlets, needles, and lichen.
After laying 3 or 4 pale blue-green eggs, lightly
speckled with dark brown, gray, and olive, she
incubates them for 12 to 14 days. The male brings
food to the female on the nest. Both members of the
pair feed the young.
Young Evening Grosbeaks leave the nest after 13 to
14 days, but remain near the nest for 2 to 5 days,
and the adults continue to feed them for some time
after that. Some pairs raise two clutches in a single
Range Breeds from British Columbia east to
Nova Scotia and south to northern New England,
Minnesota, Mexico (in mountains), and California.
Winters south to southern California, Texas, and
Evening Grosbeaks are somewhat nomadic and
wander widely in winter. Irruptions in fall and winter
are common in response to changing food
supplies. Eastern birds may migrate south, but
western populations are more often altitudinal
migrants, moving from the mountains into nearby
lowlands in winter.
Voice Song a series of short, musical whistles.
Call note similar to the chirp of the House Sparrow
but louder and more ringing.
Discussion This grosbeak formerly bred no
farther east than Minnesota, but more food available
at bird feeders may have enabled more birds to
survive the winter, and the species now breeds east
to the Atlantic.
Like most of the northern finches, however, these
birds are more numerous in some years than in
others. In winter they feed in flocks mainly on the
seeds of box elder or on sunflower seeds at