Sunday, July 24, 2011

Black-headed Grosbeak Pheucticus melanocephalus

Black-headed Grosbeak Pheucticus melanocephalus

At first glance this orange-and-black species looks like a plump oriole, but it can be easily distinguished by its stout bill. Retiring and somewhat secretive, the Black-headed Grosbeak is not at all closely related to the Evening Grosbeak, although both have a large, conical bill. The Black-headed is an early fall migrant, sometimes starting its journey southward in July.

Identification Male orange below and 011 neck, with all-black hood; wings and tail black with bold white spots; lower belly and wing linings yellow. Female and immature buff below with thin streaks on flanks; dark brown wings and tail have faint white markings. Bill conical, thick, and pale in all plumages.

Voice Song a rising and falling robinlike series of fluty whistles. Call a hard spik; also a plaintive whee or whee-you.

Habitat Deciduous forests, streamside groves, gardens, and orchards.

Range Breeds from S. British Columbia and Saskatchewan to S. California and Mexico. Winters mainly in Mexico.

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