by Dave Hanks
I like grosbeaks! They are heavy beaked, chunky bodied, and colorful. They are wild and yet bold enough to let you study them. They will, also, readily come to feeders. Then, you can get close up views. The Evening Grosbeak is no exception.
One April morning, my wife and I took a short excursion to the Elba vicinity to look for this bird. Not able to find any, discouraged and frustrated, we headed for home. But what a surprise was in store for us as we drove into our yard! Fifty or more of these birds were covering our front lawn. For the rest of that month, these Grosbeaks were common at our feeders. Luck was with us that spring! This is an IRRUPTIVE species. These are species that (because of varying food sources) are not regular in their movements but are not migratory. We usually get a few Evening Grosbeak each spring but not in the quantity or length of time that we got them that year.
This is a large, robust finch that is 6 to 7 inches in length. The male has a brownish-gold body with a yellow forehead. His wings are black but have a very vivid, large, white patch on them. The female is more subtly colored but still quite attractive.
This bird likes coniferous or mixed woodlands, usually in the western or northern parts of our continent. However, its range has expanded as people plant a greater variety of trees in their yards.
The male will chase the female in the early spring and perform a silent display of fluttering and extended wings. Later in his courtship, he will feed the female, and she will flirt with him by bobbing her head and swinging her body. Two broods are usually raised each year.