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Black-headed Grosbeak

December 05, 2023

This rare bird almost turned into a tale of woe for me. I set up with a view of the feeder from the road expecting some distant photos. But wait! The Black-headed Grosbeak popped up in front of me in a multiflora tangle almost void of fruit. This intrepid forager found some of the last remaining offerings. This supplements the bird and the winter bird photographic opportunity. camera would not focus no matter what I did. I managed these photos using manual focus. Somewhere along the way I touched the wrong key or software button. This camera will be leaving my service since this should not happen,...ever.

This visit of the Black-headed Grosbeak is a 16th record for Nova Scotia and the first for December. In all likelihood it will stay all winter.

Black-headed Grosbeak

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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Black-headed grosbeak
Male in California, United States
Duration: 9 seconds.
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Cardinalidae
Genus: Pheucticus
P. melanocephalus
Binomial name
Pheucticus melanocephalus
(Swainson, 1827)

The black-headed grosbeak (Pheucticus melanocephalus) is a medium-sized, seed-eating bird in the family Cardinalidae. It is sometimes considered conspecific with the rose-breasted grosbeak (P. ludovicianus) with which it hybridizes on the American Great Plains.

The 19 cm (7.5 in) long, 47 g (1.7 oz) black-headed grosbeak is a migratory bird, with nesting grounds from southwestern British Columbia, through the western half of the United States, into central Mexico. It occurs as a vagrant further south in Central America.


Photograph of female
The female of this species looks similar to the female of the rose-breasted grosbeak and is best separated on geographical range.


  • Length: 7.1–7.5 in (18–19 cm)
  • Weight: 1.2–1.7 oz (34–48 g)
  • Wingspan: 12.6 inches (32 cm)

The black-headed grosbeak is similar in size to a common starling. As per its name, the male has a black head, and black wings and tail with prominent white patches. Its breast is dark to tawny orange in color, and its belly is yellow. The female has a brown head, neck, and back with sparrow-like black streaks. She also has white streaks down the middle of her head, over her eyes, and on her cheeks. Her breast is white, and wings and tail are grayish-brown with two white wing bars and yellowish wing edges.