Go West to See Black-Headed Grosbeaks

If it's spring in the west, fill a feeder with sunflower seeds and you may soon discover a pair of black-headed grosbeaks nesting nearby.

Black-headed Grosbeak Pair at FeederKeithSzafranski/Getty Images
Male and female black-headed grosbeaks at a feeder in Colorado

Male and Female Black-Headed Grosbeak

A male has a black head, brownish-orange underparts and bicolored bill, a black and white tail and white wing patches. The female is brown with a striped head, back and sides. Check out the 5 grosbeaks backyard birders should know.

Facts About Black-Headed Grosbeaks

Scientific Name: Pheucticus melanocephalus
Family: Cardinal
Length: 8 inches
Wingspan: 12-1/2 inches

black headed grosbeakCourtesy Mark Schmitt
Male black-headed grosbeak

Nest and Eggs

Located in the dense outer foliage of a tree or shrub, the nest is built of natural materials and hair and holds two to five green or blue spotted eggs. Learn about 8 different kinds of bird nests and how to spot them.

What Do Black-Headed Grosbeaks Eat?

Once a rarity at feeders, they’re becoming more and more frequent visitors. They’ll eagerly eat sunflower seeds, as well as insects, seeds and berries from bushes and trees.

Black-Headed Grosbeak Song

This bird makes a hurried, whistled, warbling song, like a nervous robin. They are melodic warblers within their nesting ranges or along their spring migration routes.

Bird songs provided by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

Learn about the top songbirds in America.

Black-Headed Grosbeak Habitat and Range

Yards with loads of trees attract these birds. This species prefers open oak woods, riversides, canyons and is found primarily in the western half of the United States during summer. In the Great Plains, this species overlaps with the rose-breasted grosbeak.

Black-headed Grosbeak Bird SpeciesRange maps provided by Kaufman Field Guides, the official field guide of Birds & Blooms.

Jill Staake
Jill Staake's lifelong love of nature turned into a career during the years she spent working with native Florida butterflies, caterpillars, and other wildlife at the Museum of Science & Industry in Tampa, Florida. During this time, she helped to maintain 30+ acres of gardens and backwoods, all carefully cultivated to support the more than 20 species of butterflies displayed indoors and out. She now writes for a variety of publications and sites on topics like gardening and birding, among others.