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. 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.
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.
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.