Black-Headed Grosbeak

Scientific Name: Pheycticus melanocephalus

Sound: The Black-Headed Grosbeak has a beautiful voice. It sounds somewhat like a robin, but it doesn’t follow an exact pattern. It is warbily at times, and sounds very flutelike. The notes are sung with short pauses in between, and they ascend and descend quickly.

Diet: Black-Headed Grosbeaks eat a variety of foods. In the winter they mostly eat seeds, but these birds can also eat monarch butterflies. Most birds can not eat these butterflies because monarch butterflies eat milk weed, which makes toxins gather. During the breeding season they eat insects, spiders, snails, berries, and fruit.

Habitat: Black-Headed Grosbeaks breed in deciduous or mixed woodland. They especially like brushy areas around water. Black-Headed Grosbeaks can also be found in suburban and wetland habitats.

Nesting: Female Black-Headed Grosbeaks build the nest. It is constructed of rootlets, pine needles, and plant stems, and lined with hair, rootlets, and string. It is placed in the outer branches of an alder, big leaf maple, small willow, cotton wood, or other broad leaf tree.

Description/field marks: Black-Headed Grosbeaks are spectacular birds. The males are bright orange or yellow on the underside and in a ring around the neck. The back, tail, and wings are black, with white speckles and spots on the wings. The head, as you might guess from the name, is black. The female has duller colors, but the marking are beautiful. Unlike the male, female have light and dark stripes on their heads. The back, tail, and wings are more of a brown color than black, and the underside is a duller orange or yellow. Other than that the male and female look the same. They both have large bills for cracking seeds, like all grosbeaks.

How to attract: To attract Black-Headed Grosbeaks to your yard, you can put out fruit or seed, and they will come. Serve fruit on a platform feeder with other fruit, and seed in practically any feeder. Black-Headed Grosbeaks can also be attracted by a suet feeder. Another thing that works for all birds is a birdbath. Every bird needs to bath and drink once a day.

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