Already a subscriber? Sign in Don't have a subscription? Subscribe Now
Evening Grosbeak
Coccothraustes vespertinus
Order
PASSERIFORMES
– Family
FRINGILLIDAE
Authors: Gillihan, Scott W., and Bruce Byers

Welcome to the Birds of North America Online!

Welcome to BNA Online, the leading source of life history information for North American breeding birds. This free, courtesy preview is just the first of 14 articles that provide detailed life history information including Distribution, Migration, Habitat, Food Habits, Sounds, Behavior and Breeding. Written by acknowledged experts on each species, there is also a comprehensive bibliography of published research on the species.

A subscription is needed to access the remaining articles for this and any other species. Subscription rates start as low as $5 USD for 30 days of complete access to the resource. To subscribe, please visit the Cornell Lab of Ornithology E-Store.

If you are already a current subscriber, you will need to sign in with your login information to access BNA normally.

Subscriptions are available for as little as $5 for 30 days of full access! If you would like to subscribe to BNA Online, just visit the Cornell Lab of Ornithology E-Store.

Introduction

Adult female Evening Grosbeak; NY State, November
Adult male Evening Grosbeak
Figure 1. Distribution of the Evening Grosbeak.

The Evening Grosbeak is a stocky, heavy-billed finch of northern coniferous forests. An irruptive migrant across much of its range, it makes roughly biannual appearances at winter feeding stations throughout much of the coterminous United States. Often moving in large flocks, this boldly colored bird with the massive bill is difficult for observers to miss. During the breeding season, however, the species is quite secretive, and courtship occurs without elaborate song or display. This secretiveness, together with a spare, flimsy nest placed high in a tree, makes it a difficult subject of study. As a result, comparatively little is known of the species’ life history.

The breeding range of the Evening Grosbeak underwent a significant expansion in historic times. The contemporary scientific literature documented eastward movement, with the species regularly appearing in areas east of its known range, perhaps a result of the establishment of box elder (Acer negundo) in eastern cities as an ornamental planting. The abundant seeds of the box elder persist on the tree through the winter, providing a stable food supply. Outbreaks of forest insects may also have allowed this bird to extend its breeding range to the east.

The Evening Grosbeak was an object of much interest from the late 1800s to the mid-1900s, largely as a part of natural history and banding studies resulting from its eastward range expansion. Comparatively few recent studies have been conducted—surprising considering the species’ extensive range. Important recent works include studies of breeding ecology and behavior in Colorado (Bekoff et al. 1989, Scott and Bekoff 1991, Bekoff 1995), impact on forest insect pests (Torgersen and Campbell 1982, Takekawa and Garton 1984), and winter irruptions (Bock and Lepthien 1976, Prescott 1994).