Evening Grosbeak

Hesperiphona vespertina

Last updated: November 15, 2022
Verified by: AZ Animals Staff
© Valleyboi63/Shutterstock.com

They are friendly and non-aggressive to those in their species.

Evening Grosbeak Scientific Classification

Kingdom
Animalia
Phylum
Chordata
Class
Aves
Order
Passeriformes
Family
Fringillidae
Genus
Hesperiphona 
Scientific Name
Hesperiphona vespertina

Read our Complete Guide to Classification of Animals.

Evening Grosbeak Conservation Status

Evening Grosbeak Locations

Evening Grosbeak Locations

Evening Grosbeak Facts

Prey
Seeds, berries, buds, fruit, sap, and insects
Main Prey
Seeds
Name Of Young
Chicks
Group Behavior
  • Social
Fun Fact
They are friendly and non-aggressive to those in their species.
Estimated Population Size
3.4 million
Biggest Threat
Habitat loss, invasive species, and pollution
Most Distinctive Feature
Chunky build and conical bills
Distinctive Feature
short tails and thick necks
Wingspan
11.8 to 14.2 inches
Incubation Period
11 to 13 days
Age Of Fledgling
2 weeks
Habitat
Coniferous forests
Predators
Domestic cats, jays, hawks, grackles, and squirrels
Diet
Omnivore
Lifestyle
  • Diurnal
Favorite Food
Box elder, ash, and maple seeds
Type
Bird
Common Name
Evening grosbeak
Special Features
Conical bill
Location
North America
Nesting Location
Horizontal tree branch away from the trunk
Migratory
1

Evening Grosbeak Physical Characteristics

Color
  • Brown
  • Grey
  • Yellow
  • White
  • Olive
Skin Type
Feathers
Lifespan
up to 16 years
Weight
1.9 to 2.6 ounces
Length
6.3 to 7.1 inches

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“Evening grosbeaks are common at backyard feeders.”

Summary

The evening grosbeak (Hesperiphona vespertina) is a large, heavyset bird with a thick conical bill native to North America. It inhabits coniferous forests in Canada and the Northern United States and frequents much of the US’s urban and suburban areas during the winter. Look to the tops of trees where they forage for food and listen for their short whistles and sparrow-like calls. Discover this fascinating North American bird, including where it lives, what it eats, and how it behaves.

5 Amazing Evening Grosbeak Facts

  • The evening grosbeak is a frequent species at backyard feeders. They enjoy sunflower seeds in platform feeders.
  • They are large, chunky birds with conical bills, perfect for cracking open seeds.
  • They are friendly and non-aggressive to those in their species.
  • They have short, musical whistles that sound like house sparrow songs.
  • Researchers are unsure what’s causing a significant decline in their population.

Where to Find the Evening Grosbeak

The evening grosbeak lives in North America in three countries, including the United States, Canada, and Mexico. They live year-round in Southern Canada and the Pacific Northwest in the United States. Some populations migrate for the winter by moving south into much of the US and some parts of Mexico. They breed in mature coniferous forests, mainly spruce-fir, pine-oak, and aspen. Wintering grosbeaks live in coniferous and deciduous forests, suburbs, and urban areas. Migratory birds often spend much of their time at backyard feeders. Be sure to leave out sunflower seeds on a platform feeder to attract them to your yard!

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Countries

  1. United States
  2. Canada
  3.  Mexico

Evening Grosbeak Nest

Females build their nests on a horizontal tree branch away from the trunk or on a vertical fork, up to 100 feet above the ground. The nest is a loosely constructed cup made of twigs and lined with grass, moss, and pine needles. 

Scientific Name

The evening grosbeak (Hesperiphona vespertina) is in the Fringillidae family, encompassing the true finches, small to medium-sized birds with stout conical-shaped beaks. Its genus, Hesperiphona, also comprises the finches. Its specific name, Vespertina, is Latin for “evening.” 

Size, Appearance, & Behavior

The evening grosbeak is a large, chunky bird with thick conical bills. They measure 6.3 to 7.1 inches long and weigh 1.9 to 2.6 ounces, with an 11.8 to 14.2-inch wingspan. This bird also has a short tail, a broad chest, and a thick neck. Adult males have bright yellow foreheads and bodies, with a brown head and a large white patch on its wing. Females are olive-brown with gray underparts. Both sexes feature black tails and wings and pale bills. 

These grosbeaks are social birds often found in flocks, especially in winter. They break off into small groups and pairs during the breeding season. They are friendly with those in their species and show very little aggression toward one another. This species also does not defend its feeding territories due to the abundance of food in its habitats. Their songs are short, with musical whistles, and their calls sound like a house sparrow

Migration Pattern and Timing

Evening grosbeaks are residents to irregular migrants. Populations in Southern Canada and the Pacific Northwest in the United States live year-round in their environments. Other northern populations will only migrate when cone crops in coniferous forests are low. They typically only migrate further south into the United States and Mexico every two to three years.

Diet

Evening grosbeaks are omnivores that feed on the tops of trees and shrubs.

What Does the Evening Grosbeak Eat?

Most of their diet comes from seeds, especially box elder, ash, and maple. They also eat berries, buds, small fruit, weed seeds, maple sap, and insects. This bird consumes gravel for minerals and frequently graces backyard feeders with sunflower seeds. They forage on the tops of trees and shrubs and occasionally on the ground. They forage in flocks outside of the nesting season.

Predators, Threats, and Conservation Status

The IUCN lists the evening grosbeak as VU or “vulnerable.” Their range and population are still relatively large, but studies suggest this species is on a steep and rapid decline. There doesn’t appear to be one specific cause for this decline; there are likely many causes. Their most significant threats include urbanization, the logging industry, invasive species, and pollution. These birds are also susceptible to the effects of climate change and may suffer from spring heat waves and wildfires in the future.

What Eats the Evening Grosbeak?

The most significant predator of the evening grosbeak is domestic cats. But they may fall victim to jays, hawks, grackles, and squirrels. This species is not particularly quarrelsome but may give alarm calls to warn of intruders. While they are not aggressive birds, they will chase away woodpeckers, cowbirds, and robins.

Reproduction, Young, and Molting

Evening grosbeaks form monogamous pairs during the breeding season and mate quietly without producing elaborate songs and displays. Males occasionally perform a little vibrating dance during courtship. Females lay between two and five (three to four on average) pale blue-green eggs with brown, purple, or gray blotches. They incubate for 11 to 13 days while the males bring them food. Both parents feed the nestling, and the young fledge the nest around two weeks after hatching. This species produces one to two broods per year. They live an average of 5.5 years but can reach up to 16.

Population

The global evening grosbeak population is estimated to number 3.4 million mature individuals. Despite its seemingly large population, this grosbeak has undergone a significant and steep decline in North America over the last 40 years. Some research suggests their numbers have decreased by 94% since 1970. Scientists have not yet identified the reason for its steep decline. However, many factors can contribute.

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About the Author

Niccoy is a professional writer and content creator focusing on nature, wildlife, food, and travel. She graduated Kappa Beta Delta from Florida State College with a business degree before realizing writing was her true passion. She lives in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains and enjoys hiking, reading, and cooking!

Evening Grosbeak FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

Where do evening grosbeaks live?

The evening grosbeak lives in North America in three countries, including the United States, Canada, and Mexico. They live year-round in Southern Canada and the Pacific Northwest in the United States.

How big is the evening grosbeak?

They measure 6.3 to 7.1 inches long and weigh 1.9 to 2.6 ounces, with an 11.8 to 14.2-inch wingspan.

Are evening grosbeaks social?

These grosbeaks are social birds often found in flocks, especially in winter. They break off into small groups and pairs during the breeding season.

What do evening grosbeaks sound like?

Their songs are short, with musical whistles, and their calls sound like a house sparrow.

What does the evening grosbeak eat?

Most of their diet comes from seeds, especially box elder, ash, and maple. They also eat berries, buds, small fruit, weed seeds, maple sap, and insects.

What threatens the evening grosbeak?

Their most significant threats include urbanization, the logging industry, invasive species, and pollution. These birds are also susceptible to the effects of climate change and may suffer from spring heat waves and wildfires in the future.

How many eggs does the evening grosbeak lay?

Females lay between two and five (three to four on average) pale blue-green eggs with brown, purple, or gray blotches.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.

Sources
  1. The Red Lisr, Available here: https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/22720702/131500502
  2. The Condor / David N. Bonter, Michael G. Harvey, Available here: https://academic.oup.com/condor/article/110/2/376/5152355
  3. Oxford University Press, Available here: https://www.jstor.org/stable/24722909#metadata_info_tab_contents

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