Comprehensive Guide to selected species of:
Birds of the Boreal Forest « back to Guide
Evening Grosbeak Coccothraustes vespertinus
Family: Finches, Fringillidae
Audio: Martyn Stewart, © Naturesound.org
An estimated 45% of the species' North American population breeds within the Boreal Forest.
Description 7 1/2-8 1/2" (19-22 cm). Starling-sized, stocky finch with a very large, pale greenish or yellowish conical bill. Male has brown head shading to yellow on lower back, rump, and underparts; bright yellow forehead and eyebrow; bold white wing patches. Female similar but grayer.
Habitat Nests in coniferous forests; visits deciduous woodlands and suburban areas in winter.
Nesting 3 or 4 pale blue-green eggs, lightly speckled with dark brown, gray, and olive, in a shallow, loose cup of twigs lined with rootlets and placed in a conifer.
Voice Song a series of short, musical whistles. Call note similar to the chirp of the House Sparrow but louder and more ringing.
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 South Carolina.
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 feeders. In spring the outer coating of the bill peels off, exposing the blue-green color beneath.