Black-headed Grosbeak

Silhouette GrosbeaksGrosbeaks

Black-headed Grosbeak

Pheucticus melanocephalus
  • ORDER: Passeriformes
  • FAMILY: Cardinalidae
Basic Description

In western North America, the sweet song of the Black-headed Grosbeak caroling down from the treetops sounds like a tipsy robin welcoming spring. The flashy black, white, and cinnamon males and the less flamboyant females sing from perches in suburbs, desert thickets, and mountain forests. At feeders they effortlessly shuck sunflower seeds with their heavy bills. The showy male puts in equal time on the domestic front: both sexes sit on the eggs, feed the young, and feistily defend their nesting territory.

More ID Info
image of range map for Black-headed GrosbeakRange map provided by Birds of North AmericaExplore Maps

Find This Bird

Listen for the Black-headed Grosbeak's rich, lilting song in the treetops and its abrupt spik call as it gleans in dense foliage from spring through summer. It may be easiest to spot at sunflower seed feeders, but you may catch a glimpse of it in almost any diverse habitat, especially those with a few large trees and complex understory.

Other Names
  • Picogordo Tigrillo (Spanish)
  • Cardinal à tête noire (French)

Backyard Tips

Attract Black-headed Grosbeaks by setting out sunflower seed feeders, and don't be surprised to find them at nectar feeders set out for orioles. They'll even nest in backyards and gardens where enough cover is available and water is nearby.

  • Cool Facts