Hesperiphona vespertinaevening grosbeak

Geographic Range

The evening grosbeak's range spans from southern Canada into northern California and as far east as New Hampshire. Year round they can be found in Canada and the Northern portions of the United States like the Rocky Mountains and the Great Lakes. They winter throughout the United States except for Florida. ("Evening Grosbeak", 2016)


Coniferous and deciduous forests are the evening grosbeaks preferred habitats. During migration and winter the birds can be found in broad-leafed trees and open environments with fruiting shrubs. During breeding season, mixed coniferous forests are where these birds will be found. The preferred trees of evening grosbeaks are spruce and fir. ("Seattle Audubon Society", 2016; Kaufman, 2016)

  • Range elevation
    1.524-3.048 (low) km
    (low) mi

Physical Description

Evening Grosbeaks are medium-large songbirds with thick yellowish green, conical bills. They are sexually dimorphic in that males are more colorful than the females. The males have dark brown heads, bright yellow bellies and backs, black wings with white wing-patches, and short black tails. They also have yellow across their brows like a headlamp. Females are a duller brownish-gray with dark heads. They have black wings with white patches as well as yellow bellies. Females and juveniles closely resemble each other. ("Evening Grosbeak", 2016; "Seattle Audubon Society", 2016)

  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • sexes colored or patterned differently
  • male more colorful
  • Average mass
    54.9 g
    1.93 oz
  • Average length
    19.05 cm
    7.50 in
  • Average wingspan
    33.02 cm
    13.00 in
  • Average basal metabolic rate
    0.7294 W cm3.O2/g/hr


Monogamy is the usual mating system for the evening grosbeak. If the food sources are unusually plentiful then polygamy can occur. Mating pairs are normally formed before they arrive at the breeding grounds. Courtship is quiet and without song. The male performs a "dance" for the female where he raises his head and tail and droops and vibrates his wings while he swivels back and forth. Another courtship ritual is the females and males alternately bowing at each other. Males do not defend their feeding territory during the breeding season due to speculation that food is abundant in their local patches. ("Seattle Audubon Society", 2016; "Evening Grosbeak", 2015; Kaufman, 2016)

Females have between zero and five eggs and incubate them for about twelve to fourteen days. Males feed the females while the females stay on the nest. The nestlings stay in the nest for another thirteen to fifteen days after hatching. Those birds will remain near their nests for another two to five days and continue to be fed by the parents. It is not uncommon for a breeding pair to have two broods in one breeding season. ("Seattle Audubon Society", 2016; Kaufman, 2016)

  • Breeding interval
    The evening grosbeak can have up to 2 brood clutches in a year.
  • Breeding season
    Breeding season begins in mid-spring.
  • Range eggs per season
    0 to 5
  • Average eggs per season
  • Average time to hatching
    12-14 days
  • Average fledging age
    13-14 days

While the female is on the nest, the male brings her food. Once the eggs are hatched both parents participate in feeding the young. After the young birds leave the nest they remain close by and the parents continue to feed them for 2-5 days before they young fledge. ("Evening Grosbeak", 2016; "Seattle Audubon Society", 2016)


Little is known about the lifespan of evening grosbeaks in the wild. They can live up to 16 years. ("Evening Grosbeak", 2016)

  • Range lifespan
    Status: wild
    16 (high) years


During winters evening grosbeak travel in noisy flocks around suburban areas looking for bird feeders and other food sources, but once breeding season arrives they pair bond and become more elusive, being as secretive as possible. During the winter there might be some territorial fighting for food sources, but during the breeding season the birds are less antagonistic. It is thought that when food is abundant their is less intraspecific competition. Evening grosbeaks are also nomadic in that if food is scarce in one area they will leave and find another territory where the resources are more abundant. ("Evening Grosbeak", 2016; "Seattle Audubon Society", 2016; "Evening Grosbeak", 2015)

Communication and Perception

Calls are usually made while flying in the flock. The call is a singular chirp in order to let others know where the individual is in flight. It is very similar to that of a house sparrow but the chirp is much louder. Lone individuals or perching flocks may also send out a similar mocking chirp so that the flying flock is aware that there are other birds around. The birds have a wide variety of calls used less often. ("Canadian Wildlife Federation", 1994; "Seattle Audubon Society", 2016)

Food Habits

The thick conical bill that the evening grosbeak has is made for opening and crushing seeds from various trees and plants. These birds are mainly granivores but are also known to eat an abundant amount of spruce budworms Choristoneura fumiferana. When in the breeding season, the primary seeds eaten are cones from spruce, fir, and pine trees. During the winter or non-breeding season, the evening grosbeak makes frequent visits to local bird feeders and eat a large amount of sunflower seeds. ("Canadian Wildlife Federation", 1994)

  • Animal Foods
  • insects
  • Plant Foods
  • seeds, grains, and nuts


The evening grosbeak has no known predators.

Ecosystem Roles

Evening grosbeaks feed heavily on the spruce budworm Choristoneura fumiferana when they can find it. This worm is a parasite of many pulpwood forest stands and can be detrimental to the trees. The birds are found in large numbers eating the larvae and pupae of the budworms. It is speculated that the parents even bring some of the budworms back to their nestlings to feed them. ("Canadian Wildlife Federation", 1994)

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Evening grosbeaks are known to frequent bird feeders during the winters and non-breeding seasons. The benefits of having these birds come to a feeder would be aesthetic for the human owner of the feeder. ("Evening Grosbeak", 2016)

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

There are no known adverse effects of the evening grosbeak on humans.

Conservation Status

The evening grosbeak is currently listed as least concern. The range of the population is large and they have plentiful resources. In the last few years the population has declined but not enough for it to become a concern (International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, 2016). ("The ICUN Red List of Threatened Species", 2016)

Other Comments

The evening grosbeak goes under a two different scientific names. The more common of the two is Hesperiphona vespertina and the other being Hesperiphona vespertina. ("Human Aging Genomic Resource", 2016)


Holly Waterson (author), University of Wisconsin Stevens Point, Christopher Yahnke (editor), University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, Tanya Dewey (editor), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.



living in the Nearctic biogeographic province, the northern part of the New World. This includes Greenland, the Canadian Arctic islands, and all of the North American as far south as the highlands of central Mexico.

World Map


uses sound to communicate

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.


an animal that mainly eats meat


uses smells or other chemicals to communicate


animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.


forest biomes are dominated by trees, otherwise forest biomes can vary widely in amount of precipitation and seasonality.


an animal that mainly eats seeds


An animal that eats mainly plants or parts of plants.


An animal that eats mainly insects or spiders.


offspring are produced in more than one group (litters, clutches, etc.) and across multiple seasons (or other periods hospitable to reproduction). Iteroparous animals must, by definition, survive over multiple seasons (or periodic condition changes).


makes seasonal movements between breeding and wintering grounds


Having one mate at a time.


having the capacity to move from one place to another.

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.


generally wanders from place to place, usually within a well-defined range.


reproduction in which eggs are released by the female; development of offspring occurs outside the mother's body.


having more than one female as a mate at one time

seasonal breeding

breeding is confined to a particular season


reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female


associates with others of its species; forms social groups.


lives alone


living in residential areas on the outskirts of large cities or towns.


uses touch to communicate


that region of the Earth between 23.5 degrees North and 60 degrees North (between the Tropic of Cancer and the Arctic Circle) and between 23.5 degrees South and 60 degrees South (between the Tropic of Capricorn and the Antarctic Circle).


uses sight to communicate


1994. "Canadian Wildlife Federation" (On-line). Accessed August 13, 2016 at http://www.hww.ca/en/wildlife/birds/evening-grosbeak.html?referrer=https://www.google.com/.

2016. "Evening Grosbeak" (On-line). Accessed August 11, 2016 at http://www.nhptv.org/wild/eveninggrosbeak.asp.

Cornell University. 2015. "Evening Grosbeak" (On-line). All About Birds. Accessed August 10, 2016 at https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Evening_grosbeak/lifehistory.

2016. "Human Aging Genomic Resource" (On-line). AnAge: The Animal Aging and Longevity Database. Accessed August 11, 2016 at http://genomics.senescence.info/species/entry.php?species=Coccothraustes_vespertinus.

2016. "Seattle Audubon Society" (On-line). Accessed August 10, 2016 at http://www.birdweb.org/birdweb/bird/evening_grosbeak.

International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources. 2016. "The ICUN Red List of Threatened Species" (On-line). Red List. Accessed August 11, 2016 at http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/22720702/0.

Bekoff, M., A. Scott, D. Conner. 1989. Ecological Analyses of Nesting Success in Evening Grosbeaks. Oecologia, Vol. 81, No. 1: 67-74. Accessed August 11, 2016 at http://www.jstor.org.ezproxy.uwsp.edu/stable/4219105?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents.

Kaufman, K. 2016. "Evening Grosbeak" (On-line). Accessed August 10, 2016 at http://www.audubon.org/field-guide/bird/evening-grosbeak.