Boreal Birds
300+ species, billions of birds rely on Canada's boreal forest as critical breeding grounds
© Cephas/Wikimedia Commons (CC 2.5)

Evening Grosbeak

Evening Grosbeak
Coccothraustes vespertinus
Perching Birds | Family: Finches, Fringillidae

An estimated 45% of the species' North American population breeds within the Boreal Forest.

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Overview

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.

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.

Voice

Song a series of short, musical whistles. Call note similar to the chirp of the House Sparrow but louder and more ringing.

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.

Habitat

Nests in coniferous forests; visits deciduous woodlands and suburban areas in winter.

Range/Migration

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.