Black-headed Grosbeak

photo by NEBRASKAland Magazine/Nebraska Game and Parks Commission

Pheucticus melanocephalus
L 8 1/4″ (21 cm).

Song or calls:
Listen (NGPC audio)
Melodious, robin-like song interspersed with low “whirr” notes. Call is sharp “eek!.”

Description: Very large, triangular bill; bill is dark above and pale below. In flight, yellow wing linings and black-and-white wing pattern are visible. Male has black head, back, tail, and wings; cinnamon underparts, collar, and rump; white wing bars and wing patch. Female has brown and sparrow-like upperparts and buffy, sparsely streaked underparts.

black headed grosbeak
Habitat: Relatively open stands of deciduous forest in floodplains and uplands, orchards, brushy woodlands, parks, and suburbs. Prefers areas with dense understories.

Where in Nebraska: Common spring and fall migrant and summer resident in western Nebraska. Eastern limits of breeding range are confused by hybridization with Rose-breasted Grosbeaks.

Fun Facts: Female Black-headed Grosbeaks sing a simplified version of the male song and has will occasionally sing the full song to trick the male into thinking there are intruders and force him to spend more time at the nest.

nesting Black-headed Grosbeak - NEBRASKAland Magazine/Nebraska Game and Parks Commission juvenile Black-headed Grosbeak - photo by Phil Swanson
(click image for larger view)