Black-headed Grosbeak

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image: bhgrosbeak.jpg

Common Name: Black-headed Grosbeak

Scientific Name: Pheucticus melanocephalus

Size: 8.25 inches (18-19 cm)

Habitat: North America. Summer Range: Breeds from southern British Columbia eastward to western North Dakota, central Kansas, and western Texas southward to southern Mexico. Winter Range: Winters in southern Mexico. Found in a variety of deciduous and mixed forest habitats.

Status: Least Concern. Global Population: 4,900,000 Mature individuals. Populations generally slightly increasing.

Diet: Seed, insects and some fruit.

Breeding: A loose, open cup of twigs, plant stems, rootlets, and pine needles, lined with fine stems, rootlets, hair, string, and some green material. Placed in outer branches of small tree or shrub, often near a stream. 2-5 eggs,

Cool Facts: Despite his showy plumage, the male Black-headed Grosbeak shares about equally with the female in incubating eggs and feeding young. The nest of the Black-headed Grosbeak is widely reported to be so thinly constructed that eggs can be seen through bottom. However, nests are less thin in northern California. Thin nests may provide ventilation and help keep them cool.

The female Black-headed Grosbeak commonly sings. The female song is generally a simplified version of the male song. Occasionally, the female sings full "male" song, apparently to deceive its mate about the presence of intruders and force him to spend more time at the nest.

The male Black-headed Grosbeak does not get its adult breeding plumage until it is two years old. First-year males can vary from looking like a female to looking nearly like an adult male. Only yearling males that most closely resemble adult males are able to defend a territory and attempt to breed.

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