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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

Black-headed Grosbeak -- Pheucticus melanocephalus

RANGE: Breeds from southern British Columbia east to southern Saskatchewan and central Kansas south to southern Mexico. Winters mainly in western Mexico from southern Baja California and southern Sonora south to Oaxaca. Rare in the Southwest during winter.

STATUS: Common.

HABITAT: Primarily inhabits relatively open stands of deciduous forests in uplands or floodplains, but also found in or near orchards, brushy woodlands or chaparral, edges or transitions between grasslands and woodlands, riparian groves or thickets, and parks or suburbs with many trees.

NEST: Builds a bulky, open-cup nest 4 to 12 feet above the ground in a fork of a variety of shrubs or small trees. Mostly nests (about 80 percent) in deciduous trees and shrubs.

FOOD: Gleans food from leaves, stems, or the ground. Mostly (about 57 percent) eats animal material (mainly spiders and insects); also eats vegetable foods (seeds and fruits.)

REFERENCES: Bent 1968a, Bevier in Farrand 1983c, Johnsgard 1979, Terres 1980, Weston 1947.

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