7-8 1/2" (18-22 cm). A large, plump finch with heavy conical bill. Wings and short tail are black; white patches on wings. Brown head with yellow forehead and eyebrows; olive-brown neck and breast. Yellow back, rump, and belly; bill yellowish in breeding and ivory in winter. Female and immatures grayish with yellow wash; wings and tail marked with white.
Calls constantly to maintain contact with flock. A shrill tchew and a trilled pwerp.
Breeds from British Columbia, east across portions of Canada, and south in mountains to central California and Veracruz, Mexico. Breeds in eastern U.S. to Minnesota, northern New York, and Massachusetts. Winters throughout breeding range, and irregularly to Gulf Coast and central Florida.
Found in montane coniferous (primarily spruce and fir) and mixed coniferous/deciduous forests at higher elevations, in second growth, and occasionally in parks. During migration and in winter, found in variety of forest and woodland habitats and around human habitation.
Eats buds and seeds of deciduous trees, shrubs, and conifers. Will eat some insects in summer.
Builds cup-shaped nest in tree, near edge of limb. Gregarious; travels and forages in flocks throughout much of year. Forages on ground, or in foliage.
In Colorado, most nests are initiated in late May or early June. Female incubates 2-5 eggs (usually 3-4), for about 11-14 days. Male provides most of female's food during incubation. Young are tended by both adults, and leave nest at 13-14 days.
No references are available at this time.