A small bird with a big bill, the blue grosbeak is a North American songbird with a striking deep-blue color. Found throughout much of the southern United States, their rich, warbling song can be heard around thickets and hedgerows during the breeding season.

Physical Description

Adult males are notable for their beautiful royal-blue coloring, with reddish-brown bar patterns on their wings and dark wings and tails. They also have a black "mask" pattern around their eyes, and dark gray bills that are proportionally large for their small heads. Females have a light reddish-brown coloring with a cinnamon-colored head, pale brown undersides, and dark brown wings and tails. Different subspecies have minor color variations.

Size

Adults are 5.9-6.3 inches (15-16 centimeters) long, with a wingspan of 11 inches (28 centimeters). They weigh about an ounce (28 grams).

Native Habitat

They are often found along forest edges, open clearings and roadsides. Migrants overwinter in weedy fields while year-round residents in Central America inhabit dry tropical forests and edges of woods.

During the breeding season, they can be found throughout the southern half of the United States and northern Mexico. Their wintering grounds include southern Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean, and very rarely in South America. They are a year-round resident in Central Mexico and the Pacific slope of Central America.

Communication

During the breeding season, males sing a rich warbling song. They also have a "chip" call that almost sounds like clinking metal. 

Food/Eating Habits

Blue grosbeaks eat insects, invertebrates, and seeds. They are known to pick grains and seeds from farm fields.

Social Structure

Except when nesting, blue grosbeaks forage in flocks. They occasionally gather in flocks during migration or while foraging In fields. Overall, their species has a relatively low population density, so they are often found alone.

Conservation Efforts

Blue grosbeaks are heavily parasitized by cowbirds, which lay their own eggs in the grosbeak’s nests, ultimately destroying the blue grosbeaks' chance of reproduction. 

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