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Recent Sighting:

Blue Grosbeak Passerina caerulea

Order: Passeriformes — Family: Cardinalidae

Identification

The male Blue Grosbeak is one of two North American birds that are overall blue and have conical beaks. It is frequently confused with the Indigo Bunting, which also favors the same brushy overgrown pastures and wood edges. It is separated by its larger size, bulkier bill, rusty brown wing bars and deeper, almost violet, blue color. The females of these two species are also very much alike, both are brown, but can be separated by the grosbeak's larger size, bulkier bill and two buffy wing bars. Either sex might also be confused with the Brown-headed Cowbird, especially in bad light where the blue plumage of the grosbeak is not evident and its wing bars are not visible.

Voice

The Blue Grosbeak has a series of rising and falling warbles and is easily distinguished from that of the Indigo Bunting with a little practice. Its call note, an explosive, metallic, ‘tsink’ is distinctive.

Length

6.75in

Migration

Eastern birds migrate across the Gulf of Mexico and western birds migrate overland. Winters in southern Mexico and Central America. Spring movement is primarily in April and May, with a fall migration is from mid-August to early October.

Habitat

Brushy overgrown pastures and wood edges.

Food

Insects, spiders, snails and seeds.

Population trends

The population is probably increasing as the breeding range has been expanding northward in recent years.

Where in US

Breeds across most of the U.S. Winters in southern Mexico and Central America.

Nests

The nest is placed in a bush, vine or low tree from 1-15 ft above the ground. This is located in overgrown pastures, brushy fence rows and woodland edges. The nest is a compact cup of twigs, bark strips, rootlets, weed stems and leaves, with an occasional bit of paper or a snakeskin, and lined with finer rootlets, grasses and hair.

Eggs

Usually 4 eggs, sometimes 3 or 5, unmarked pale blue, or rarely, with brown specks. Single-brooded in the northern part of the breeding range and double-brooded in the south.

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