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Evening Grosbeak

Coccothraustes vespertinus ORDER: PASSERIFORMES FAMILY: FRINGILLIDAE

IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

A heavyset finch of northern coniferous forests, the Evening Grosbeak adds a splash of color to winter bird feeders every few years, when large flocks depart their northern breeding grounds en masse to seek food to the south. The yellow-bodied, dusky-headed male has an imposing air thanks to his massive bill and fierce eyebrow stripe. The female is more subtly marked, with golden highlights on her soft gray plumage. This declining species is becoming uncommon, particularly in the eastern United States.

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Songs

Although they are songbirds by lineage, Evening Grosbeaks do not have regular songs. They may rarely give short, uneven warbles.

Calls

Evening Grosbeaks give sweet, piercing calls and burry chirps

Search the Macaulay Library online archive for more sounds and videos

Backyard Tips

Although they may not visit your backyard every year, Evening Grosbeaks show up irregularly at feeders during the winter. They eat sunflower seeds and are also attracted to the seeds, berries, and buds of trees and shrubs—especially maples. They are fairly large birds and they often travel in sizeable flocks, so they often use platform feeders as opposed to tube feeders.

Find This Bird

It’s hard to predict where in the western and northeastern U.S. Evening Grosbeaks will show up in any given winter. When they move into an area, they’re very likely to show up at platform feeders offering sunflower seeds, particularly near forested areas at higher elevations. Out in the woods, you’ll have better luck finding a flock if you listen for their running patter of call notes, which can be sweet, burry, or sharp. In summer you’ll need to be in northern North America or in the mountains of the West, where Evening Grosbeaks breed in coniferous forests. At this time they are harder to find as they forage and nest high in trees, travel in smaller groups, and make less noise.

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All About Birds blog, Here’s What to Feed Your Summer Bird Feeder Visitors, July 11, 2014.

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