Living Bird Magazine
Blue GrosbeakPasserina caerulea
- ORDER: Passeriformes
- FAMILY: Cardinalidae
A large, vibrantly blue bunting with an enormous silver bill and chestnut wingbars, the male Blue Grosbeak sings a rich, warbling song from trees and roadside wires. He and his cinnamon-colored mate often raise two broods of nestlings in a single breeding season. A bird of shrubby habitats, these richly colored birds can be hard to spot unless you hear them singing first. They are widespread but not abundant across the southern U.S., and are expanding their range.More ID Info
Find This Bird
Though never common during summer and despite its generally retiring habits, the openness of Blue Grosbeak habitat and the males’ propensity for singing from high, exposed perches should enable you to locate it in most of its range. Learning and listening for their burry, warbling songs makes locating Blue Grosbeaks much easier. Be sure to continue to check likely looking shrubby or old-field habitat, even if they seem to be absent in early summer—many individuals arrive quite late, even deep into July, when Blue Grosbeak can be one of the few singing birds in such habitats.
- Azulillo Grande (Spanish)
- Guiraca bleu (French)
Blue Grosbeaks may be attracted to grains and seeds at feeders in shrubby backyards.
- Cool Facts
- According to genetic evidence, the Lazuli Bunting is the Blue Grosbeak’s closest relative.
- In the southern part of the Blue Grosbeak’s breeding range, each mated pair may raise two broods of nestlings per year.
- Many Blue Grosbeaks migrate directly southward from their breeding areas to their wintering grounds. Western birds head over land and eastern birds cross the Gulf of Mexico. Migrating grosbeaks pass through the Caribbean Islands including Puerto Rico, the Bahamas, the Turks and Caicos Islands, the Antilles, the Swan Islands, the Cayman Islands, and the Virgin Islands.
- Blue Grosbeaks breed along roads and open areas, building their nests low in small trees, shrubs, tangles of vines, or briars. At least one pair of grosbeaks has nested in a bluebird nest box.
- Blue Grosbeaks have expanded northward in the United States in the past century or two, possibly taking advantage of forest clearing.
- The oldest Blue Grosbeak on record was a male, and at least 7 years, 2 month old when he was recaptured and rereleased during banding operations in Virginia.