Black-headed Grosbeak

Pheucticus melanocephalus

Order

PASSERIFORMES

Family

Cardinals, Piranga Tanagers and Allies (Cardinalidae)

Code 4

BHGR

Code 6

PHEMEL

ITIS

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ILLUSTRATION

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PHOTOS

CONSERVATION STATUS

Least Concern

The Black-headed Grosbeak is a small migratory bird which lives in a wide range, spanning from southwestern British Columbia to the western half of the United States, to central Mexico and rarely Central America. During the winter months, this species typically flies to Mexico to dine on the poisonous Monarch butterfly and berries. This species has an affinity for deciduous and mixed woodlands, favoring areas with large trees and numerous shrubs. They also tend to avoid coniferous woodlands. Their normal diet consists of pine tree and other seeds, berries, spiders, insects and fruit. The Black-headed Grosbeak’s current conservation status is Least Concern.

IBIRD EXPLORER GENERAL

PHOTO SHARING AND DISCUSSION

BIRD PHOTOGRAPHY

SUMMARY

Overview

Black-headed Grosbeak: Large, stocky finch, black-streaked, orange-brown back, black head, wings, tail. Breast is orange-brown and belly is yellow. Wings have conspicuous white patches. Black legs, feet. Female lacks black head and throat, has brown streaked upperparts and buff streaked underparts. Forages on ground and in trees and bushes. Eats insects, caterpillars, seeds, fruits and berries.


Range and Habitat

Black-headed Grosbeak: Breeds from southwestern Canada east to western North Dakota and Nebraska, and south to the mountains of Mexico. Spends winters in Mexico. Preferred habitats include open, deciduous woodlands near water, such as river bottoms, lakeshores, and swampy places with a mixture of trees and shrubs.

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SONGS AND CALLS

Voice Text

"plik"

INTERESTING FACTS

  • The Black-headed Grosbeak is one of the few birds that can safely eat the poisonous monarch butterfly.
  • Their nests are so thinly constructed that eggs can be seen through the bottom. However, nests are less thin in northern California. Thin nests may provide ventilation and help keep them cool.
  • They hybridize with their eastern counterpart, the Rose-breasted Grosbeak, along their mutual boundary. This situation arose when the treeless prairies, which once formed a barrier between the two, became dotted with towns and homesteads, providing suitable habitats for both species.
  • A group of grosbeaks are collectively known as a "gross" of grosbeaks.

SIMILAR BIRDS

RANGE MAP

CERange Map for Black-headed Grosbeak

FAMILY DESCRIPTION

TERMINOLOGY

CREDITS

Author

Gary Owen Dick

Artist

Michael Oberhofer

HELP ME IDENTIFY A BIRD

BACKYARD BIRDING

BIRDS AND BIRDING

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UnderpartsX

Belly, undertail coverts, chest, flanks, and foreneck.

UpperpartsX
Back, rump, hindneck, wings, and crown.
BellyX
The ventral part of the bird, or the area between the flanks on each side and the crissum and breast. Flight muscles are located between the belly and the breast.
BreastX
The upper front part of a bird.
Parts of a Standing bird X
Head Feathers and Markings X
Parts of a Flying bird X