Evening Grosbeaks Are Special Winter Visitors

In winter, yellow evening grosbeaks wander in flocks. Their travels are unpredictable, but they may show up at bird feeders stocked with sunflower seeds.

evening grosbeaks on a platform feederCourtesy Nancy Tully
Male and female evening grosbeaks on a tray bird feeder

Male Evening Grosbeak

The male robin-sized bird has a bright-yellow and brownish body, black tail, white wing patches and yellow band above the eye. All grosbeaks share a common characteristic: a thick, conical bill for cracking tough seeds. Check out the 5 grosbeaks backyard birders should know.

Female Evening Grosbeak

The female of this species is grayer overall and more subtle with similar markings. Learn how to identify rose-breasted grosbeaks.

Evening Grosbeak Facts

Scientific Name: Coccothraustes vespertinus.
Family: Finch
Length: 8 inches
Wingspan: 13 inches

Nest and Eggs

The female builds a shallow saucer-shaped nest from plant materials and lays two to five blue or turquoise speckled eggs. Learn about 8 different kinds of bird nests and how to spot them.

evening grosbeakCourtesy Darryl Boleratz

What Do Evening Grosbeaks Eat?

These birds eat tree berries or buds, especially maples, seeds and some insects. At feeders they prefer scattered sunflower seeds on the ground or in feeders.

“The evening grosbeak is one of the most dramatic winter finches to come from Canada to northeastern Minnesota’s coniferous forests. These yellow grosbeaks are a favorite at my feeders. Large flocks of them can be seen at the Sax-Zim Bog, which is north and west of Duluth,” says Donald Kaddatz of Mora, Minnesota.

Get to know gorgeous blue grosbeaks and black-headed grosbeaks.

Evening Grosbeak Song

Listen for a sharp, high and trilling “kleerr” call.

Bird songs provided by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

Habitat and Range Map

Evening grosbeaks live in coniferous and mixed forests. You’ll have to head up north or go west to see this species, unless you get lucky during an irruption year. There’s no telling when or where evening grosbeaks will show up during winter.

In the early 1900s, the range of the species expanded eastward, perhaps in response to more decorative seed and fruit trees being planted. Populations have been declining recently, so it’s increasingly difficult to find them. They are now uncommon in the Northeast and Midwest but still common in Oregon and other parts of the west. Learn about 6 bird migration patterns that have changed.

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

Jill Staake
Jill lives in Tampa, Florida, and writes about gardening, butterflies, outdoor projects and birding. When she's not gardening, you'll find he reading, traveling and happily digging her toes into the sand on the beach.