Black-Headed Grosbeak

ANIMAL:
Black-Headed Grosbeak Pheucticus melanocephalus

Type of Animal:
Songbird

Habitat:
Woodland, forest, patches of broadleaved trees/shrubs within conifer forests, streamside corridors, river bottoms, lakeshores w/ large trees/thick bushes/shrubbery, wetlands, suburban areas, edge habitats, cottonwood/aspen groves on floodplains, cottonwood/aspen groves on stream margins, deciduous canyons/valleys w/ large trees/rich understory, gardens w/ large trees/rich understory, orchards w/ large trees/rich understory, subtropical/tropical lowlands w/ rich understory/large trees, streamside groves of cottonwood/willow, streamside trees, brushy riparian areas, mesquite groves, tropical brush, desert washes, thickets on open woodland edges/ponds/swamps/streams, swampy areas w/ mix of trees/shrubs, yards w/ lots of trees, riversides, canyons, desert

Location(s):
W & C North America from SW Canada to Mexico w/ vagrants in Central America

Appearance:
Males have black heads/wings/tails w/ prominent white patches, dark to tawny orange breast, & yellow belly. Females have brown heads/necks/back w/ black streaks, white streaks down middle of head/over eyes/on cheeks, white breast, & grayish-brown wings/tail w/ 2 white wing bars/yellowish wing edges. Both sexes have large bills. Fairly stocky bird.

Food/Diet:
Beetles, caterpillars, wasps, bees, flies, butterflies, spiders, snails, seeds, berries, fruit, oats, wheat, nectar, grape jelly, grasshoppers, scale insects, cankerworms, buds, suet, vegetables, butterfly/moth larvae

Status in Wild:
Stable

Conservation:
Protected by Migratory Bird Treaty Act

Lifestyle:
Flocks of 2-10 birds, separating into male-female pairs during breeding/nesting season

Additional Info:

Called:
Male: Cock
Female: Hen
Young: Chick
Group: Flock
 
Weight:
1.2-1.7 oz

Gestation:
2 weeks 

Life Span:
6 years in wild, 12-20 years in captivity

Height:
7.1-7.5 in

Body Length:
7.1-7.5 in

Tail Length:
0.4 in

Main predators of adults are cats, dogs, raccoons, weasels, striped skunks, larger snakes, bobcats, raptors, coyotes, foxes, bears, & large corvids. Many snakes, jays, magpies, rock squirrels, deer mice, & chipmunks eat chicks.
 
Nests tend to be bulky & loosely constructed.
 
They raise 1-2 broods a year w/ each clutch containing 2-5 eggs.
 
Males court females w/ vigorous singing/striking displays called “nuptial flights” lasting 8-10 seconds.
 
Males highly territorial during breeding/nesting season, w/ fights sometimes resulting in death.
 
These birds tend to be migratory.
 
While mature at a year old, males don’t get adult coloration until closer to 2 years old.
 
Chicks stay w/ parents for 1-2 months.
 
Females sing simplified version of male’s melodious robin-like song.

Fun Fact(s):
These birds make an appearance on Season 1, Episode 4 of the show Criminal Minds.
 
Sometimes hybridize w/ Rose-Breasted Grosbeaks.

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