Black-headed Grosbeak

Pheucticus melanocephalus




Cardinals & Piranga Tanagers (Cardinalidae)

Code 4


Code 6



Egg Color:

Light blue or green with red brown spots

Number of Eggs:

3 - 4

Incubation Days:

12 - 14

Egg Incubator:

Both sexes

Nest Location:

4 - 25 feet above ground., Usually near water.

Nest Material:

Lined with fine material., Sticks, weeds, rootlets, and pine needles.





Black-headed Grosbeak: Large, stocky finch with black-streaked, orange-brown back, black head, wings and 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. Undulating flight with rapid wingbeats. Interbreeds with Rose-breasted Grosbeak.

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.

Breeding and Nesting

Black-headed Grosbeak: Three to four light blue or green eggs with red brown spots are laid in a loosely built stick nest lined with rootlets, grass, and leaves, and built among dense foliage on an outer tree limb. Incubation ranges from 12 to 14 days and is carried out by both parents.

Foraging and Feeding

Black-headed Grosbeak: Diet consists of seeds, insects, berries, and fruits; forages in trees, bushes, and on the ground.

Readily Eats

Suet, Nuts, Sunflower


Black-headed Grosbeak: Call note is an emphatic, sharp "tick", slightly metallic in tone.

Similar Species

Black-headed Grosbeak: Female and immature Rose-breasted Grosbeaks have heavier streaked white to buff underparts and darker underparts than Black-headed female and immature.


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

Back, rump, hindneck, wings, and crown.
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.
The upper front part of a bird.
Parts of a Standing bird X
Head Feathers and Markings X
Parts of a Flying bird X