The Black-Headed Grosbeak

  Female Black-Headed Grosbeak (Pheucticus melanocephalus)

Female Black-Headed Grosbeak (Pheucticus melanocephalus)

As I mentioned in my previous post, we had a visit from a Black-Headed Grosbeak for the first time the other night. Since then, the adult male has been back along with a female and what we believe is an adolescent. They are such cool birds, and we feel very fortunate to have them at our feeders. Here's some information from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology:

In western North America, the sweet song of the Black-headed Grosbeak caroling down from the treetops sounds like a tipsy robin welcoming spring. The flashy black, white, and cinnamon males and the less flamboyant females sing from perches in suburbs, desert thickets, and mountain forests. At feeders they effortlessly shuck sunflower seeds with their heavy bills. The showy male puts in equal time on the domestic front: both sexes sit on the eggs, feed the young, and feistily defend their nesting territory.
Black-headed Grosbeaks breed in complex habitats with a diversity of plants and ready access to water. They avoid monotonous stretches of unbroken dry chaparral, desert, grassland, or dense coniferous forests, but inhabit edges where those habitats are disturbed or meet others. A combination of large trees and rich understory seems ideal, whether found in groves of cottonwood or aspen on floodplains or stream margins, in broken pine forests or deciduous canyons and valleys, or in gardens, orchards, and suburban developments. Grosbeaks choose winter habitats in subtropical and tropical lowlands in Mexico with similar features. During migration they tend to seek out shrubs and trees rich in berries.