Blue grosbeak (Passerina caerulea) belongs to Cardinalidae family. These birds are found in North America and Central America. They are mainly migratory birds. They live in shrubs and small trees.
Males and females are quite similar with minor differences. Males have blue appearance with brown coloured wings. Females have brown appearance with blue coloured feathers. They feed on small invertebrates, snails and insects.
These birds exhibit breeding in April to August. They are monogamous. Some paired individuals can be seen multiple times in every breeding season. Males are able to sing which attract the females. They form their nests in vines and shrubbery in open areas.
They have average size of about 5.5 to 7.5 inches, average weight of about 0.92 to 1.11 ounces, and average wingspan of about 10 to 11.5 inches. They exhibit top speed of about 30 miles per hour.
Some predators of these birds include feral cats, snakes and hawks. The bird grosbeaks are listed as least concerned by International Union for Conservation of Nature. They can live up to 7 years.
Blue Grosbeak Diet:
Blue grosbeaks are omnivores. They are opportunistic feeders. Their primary diet includes insects (crickets, cicadas, mantises, grasshoppers). They can eat invertebrates like beetles, caterpillars, spiders and snails. They feed on left over seeds in fields and pastures. The foods that are toxic for blue grosbeaks are garlic, chocolate, onion, peaches, apricots, apple seeds, table scraps and old bread.
Difference Between Blue Grosbeak And Indigo Bunting:
Blue grosbeaks and indigo buntings have many similarities including their bright blue colouration, geographical range and habitat. But they have many distinctive differences too that identify both of them. Some of the differences are as follows,
The scientific name of Blue grosbeak is “Passerina caerulea” and the scientific name of Indigo bunting is “Passerina cyanea”.
Blue grosbeaks can be found in Central America during winter and in North Dakota in summer. They exhibit migration from south to north with the change of climate. They are widespread in United States. They can be found in Colorado and Indiana during winter and in Wisconsin during summer.
Indigo buntings migrate to south in Central America during winter like Blue grosbeaks. They can also be found in southern United States. These birds go much farther north in summer unlike Blue grosbeaks because of the widespread distribution of Indigo buntings in every state of Montana.
Blue grosbeaks are found in open areas with bushes and trees while Indigo buntings are found in deciduous forests.
Blue grosbeaks have average size of about 15 to 16 centimeters while Indigo buntings have average size of about 12 to 13 centimeters.
Blue grosbeaks have average wingspan of about 11 inches while wingspan of Indigo buntings is 8 inches.
Blue grosbeaks have large bill as compared to Indigo buntings. Indigo buntings have one coloured bill i.e. silver or grey coloured while blue grosbeaks exhibit two coloured beak i.e. darker grey upper mandible and lighter grey lower mandible.
Blue grosbeaks have small black patch near the base of bill. Indigo buntings don’t have this feature. Indigo bunting females exhibit lighter shade of tan as compared to Blue grosbeak females. Blue grosbeak females have wing bars that Indigo bunting females lack.
Where Do Blue Grosbeaks Live?
Blue grosbeaks are mainly found in North America. Their geographical range is northward. They can also be found in Central America, Mexico, West Indies and as south as Ecuador and as north as Idaho.
They inhabit shrubberies of vines and briars. They are hard to be seen in backyards because of their preference to be hidden. However, they can be found gleaning seeds from fields during summer.
Blue Grosbeak Behavior:
These birds are very shy around humans that’s why they are very hard to be seen. However, they can be seen hopping in the fields to find leftover seeds. These birds make some buzzing and “chink” sounds when they feel threatened. They often slide along branches. They also exhibit tail flicking. However, the purpose of tail flicking is unknown. During breeding season, males arrive to the nesting location first and start singing to attract females.
Blue Grosbeak Baby:
The breeding season of blue grosbeaks occurs in April. Males arrive before females and exhibit specific singing to attract females. After choosing the specific mate, females start building their nests. The nests are cup shaped that are made in shrubberies and vines in open areas. The nest can be made with the help of bark, twigs, newspaper, roots, rags etc. After building the nest, females start lining it with the help of fine grass, roots and hair.
Females lay about 3 to 5 eggs. The incubation period is about 11 to 12 days. After hatching, the young ones start fledging. Both the parents feed them Both the parents and chicks go to open areas to find food during summer.
Blue Black Grosbeak Female:
Blue black grosbeaks (Cyanoloxia cyanoides) belong to “Cardinalidae” family. They are the species of songbirds. They are sexually dimorphic. Females exhibit dark brown plumages. These plumages can have light reddish hue. Males exhibit blue eyebrows, and some small patches on their wings.
Blue Grosbeak Eggs:
After the formation of nest, females lay 3 to 5 eggs that are pale blue coloured and are freckled. The incubation period is about 11 to 12 days.
Blue Evening Grosbeak:
Blue evening grosbeaks (Coccothraustes vespertinus) are noisy birds. They often make some piercing and burry chirp calls. They have powerful bill that is used to crack large seeds. They are listed as endangered by IUCN because their population has been decreasing since the last 20 years.
This decline in population is because of forest management that decreases the production of slow growing hard woods such as box elder and maple. They are also killed by window collisions by cars when they come on roads to find grit and road salt during winter.
These birds are social and nomadic. They often exhibit migration for food with the change of climate. They inhabit coniferous and mixed forests. They are sexually dimorphic. Males are large having mustard yellow finch, golden eyebrows and large pale coloured bill. They have large white patches on their wings.
Females have grey appearance. They have more light yellow and less white patches on their wings. These birds feed on seeds, nuts, fruits, insects and invertebrates. The breeding season starts in spring. Courtship ritual includes raising heads by males to attract females.
Nesting sites are conifers. Number of eggs laid by females is 3 to 5 that are incubated for two weeks and males perform the task of feeding the female during this time.
“There was a misconception that these birds only sing at dusk. That’s why they are named as Evening grosbeak”.
Blue Grosbeak Facts:
Some of the facts about blue grosbeak are as follows,
- Blue grosbeaks are found in Central America and North America.
- Blue grosbeak parents remove head, legs and wings of insects before feeding to their young ones.
- There are 24 million blue grosbeaks in the world.
- The most distinctive feature of these birds is bright blue plumage of male.
- Only males exhibit singing.
- Group of grosbeaks is called gross.
- They are omnivores and feed on insects, snails and small invertebrates.
- They inhabit open woods with shrubs and small trees.
- Predators of these birds include cats, snakes etc.
- They form their nests in vines, briars, shrubs near an open area.
- They reach to the age of molting at about 9 to 10 days.
- They are listed as least concerned by IUCN.
- Their average lifespan is 5 to 7 years.
How To Attract Blue Grosbeak?
Blue grosbeaks can’t be seen in backyards because they are shy of humans. However, they may visit any yard that has all the features of their favorite habitat including shrubs and small trees in an open area.
Blue grosbeaks are one of the largest grosbeaks (seabirds) found in North America and Central America. They are well known for their ability to crack seeds because of heavy beaks and their unique songs exhibited by males. They can mostly be heard and rarely be seen because of their shy nature. These birds are not endangered and their population may even be increasing.