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Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center

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Forest and Rangeland Birds of the United States

Natural History and Habitat Use

Evening Grosbeak -- Coccothraustes vespertinus

RANGE: Breeds from southwestern and north-central British Columbia to Nova Scotia and south, in the mountains, to central California, west-central and eastern Nevada, southeastern Arizona, southern New Mexico, the Mexican highlands, and, east of the Rocky Mountains, to Minnesota, Michigan, and Massachusetts. Winters throughout the breeding range sporadically south to southern California, southern Arizona, the Gulf Coast, and central Florida.

STATUS: Locally abundant.

HABITAT: Favors coniferous forests (primarily spruce and fir), throughout most of its range, often extending into areas where trees are quite sparse and into mixed forests. In winter, forms large flocks and may move downslope to oak or pine-oak habitats, parks, and around towns.


NEST: Usually places nest on a horizontal limb of a conifer, 20 to 100 feet above the ground. Builds a shallow cup, usually in a dense cluster of leaves near the end of a branch.

FOOD: Eats seeds, fruits, and buds from a variety of trees and shrubs. In summer, the diet includes insects. Picks vegetable matter from the branches and the ground; gleans insects from branches or hawks them in the air.

REFERENCES: Forbush and May 1955, Verner and Boss 1980.

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