Pheucticus melanocephalus
(Black-headed Grosbeak)

Order: Passeriformes
Order Description: Passerines
Family: Cardinalidae
Family Description: Cardinals, Grosbeaks, & Buntings

Physical Description:
6 1/2-8 1/4" (17-22 cm). Black head and wings; head may have some white or rust; wings have white markings. Rust breast that extends around collar; pale belly; pale bill; black tail with white markings. Female is duller; fine black and buffClick word for definition stripes on head.

Similar Species- Rose-breasted Grosbeak

Robin-like song with addition of some whirring and spik sounds; much longer than American Robin.

Breeds from portions of western Canada, northeastern Montana, and northwestern North Dakota, south along Pacific Coast to northern Baja California, central and southeastern Arizona, and eastern New Mexico, east through portions of Midwest, and further south into mainland of Mexico. Winters in Mexico.

Found in deciduousClick word for definition forests and woodlands, pine/oak associations, oak scrub, pinyon/juniper woodlands, and deciduous thickets. Often found on edges of ponds, streams, or forests. Results of an Idaho study in cottonwood forest indicated grosbeaks were most strongly associated with willow subcanopies and avoided grazed areas.

Feeds on insects, spiders, berries, seeds, and buds.

Builds cup-shaped nest in tree, or sometimes in shrub. Forages in crowns of deciduousClick word for definition trees, in shrubs, and on ground. Both male and female defend nesting territory against other breeding pairs. In New Mexico, jays are primary nest predators.

Both sexes incubateClick word for definition 3- 4 eggs for 12-13 days. Nestlings are altricialClick word for definition and downy, are tended by both parents, and leave nest in 9-12 days.

Element Code: ABPBX61040
Status: Protected nongame species
Global Rank: G5
State Rank: S5,NTMB
National Rank: N5B

Important State References:
Saab, V.A. 1996. Influence of spatial scale and land management on habitat use by breeding birds in cottonwood forests of southeastern Idaho. Ph.D. Dissertation, Univ. Colorado, Boulder. 140pp.

Photo by C. Trost,© 1999
Design by Ean Harker©1999, 2000.
Written by Jason Karl, 2000.