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Black-headed Grosbeak Pheucticus melanocephalus


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Black-headed Grosbeak, male
credit: Alan Vernon/CCSA

© Lang Elliot/ (audio)

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Family: Cardinalidae, Cardinals view all from this family

Description ADULT MALE Has streaked dark brown back and dark wings with white "shoulders" and wing bars. Rump is orange-buff (white in Rosebreasted). Has a mostly dark hood with orange-buff neck and underparts. ADULT FEMALE Has mostly streaked brown upperparts with two white wing bars and white supercilium. Margin of throat is pale, but underparts are otherwise pale orange-buff with faint streaking. JUVENILE Streaked; first-winter birds recall adult female, but male has richer underparts.

Dimensions Length: 7 1/2" (19 cm)

Habitat Common summer visitor (Jun- Aug) to hardwood stands and coniferous forests; winters in Mexico.

Observation Tips Easy to see.

Range New England, Southeast, Rocky Mountains, Texas, Southwest, Northwest, California, Western Canada, Mid-Atlantic, Plains

Voice Song is rich and warbling, with some wolf-whistlelike phrases; call is a sharp eek.

Discussion Plump songbird. Immature and female birds are similar to Rosebreasted counterparts; warmer orange-buff underparts and light streaking are good identification features and breeding range is also a clue. Bill is usually darker above than below (uniformly pale in Rose-breasted) and underwing coverts are yellowish in all birds. Sexes are dissimilar.