Vol 2 #2 – The Evening Grosbeak

The Evening Grosbeak by Birds Illustrated by Bird Photography, 1897

The Evening Grosbeak by Birds Illustrated by Bird Photography, 1897



ANDSOMER birds there may be, but in the opinion of many this visitant to various portions of western North America is in shape, color, and markings one of the most exquisite of the feather-wearers. It has for its habitation the region extending from the plains to the Pacific ocean and from Mexico into British America. Toward the North it ranges further to the east; so that, while it appears to be not uncommon about Lake Superior, it has been reported as occuring in Ohio, New York, and Canada. In Illinois it was observed at Freeport during the winter of 1870 and 1871, and at Waukegan during January, 1873. It is a common resident of the forests of the State of Washington, and also of Oregon. In the latter region Dr. Merrill observed the birds carrying building material to a huge fir tree, but was unable to locate the nest, and the tree was practically inaccessable. Mr. Walter E. Bryant was the first to record an authentic nest and eggs of the Evening Grosbeak. In a paper read before the California Academy of Sciences he describes a nest of this species containing four eggs, found in Yolo county, California. The nest was built in a small live oak, at a height of ten feet, and was composed of small twigs supporting a thin layer of fibrous bark and a lining of horse hair. The eggs are of a clear greenish-ground color, blotched with pale brown. According to Mr. Davie, one of the leading authorities on North American birds, little if any more information has been obtained regarding the nests and eggs of the Evening Grosbeak.

As to its habits, Mr. O. P. Day says, that about the year 1872, while hunting during fine autumn weather in the woods about Eureka, Illinois, he fell in with a number of these Grosbeaks. They were feeding in the tree tops on the seeds of the sugar maple, just then ripening, and were excessively fat. They were very unsuspicious, and for a long time suffered him to observe them. They also ate the buds of the cottonwood tree in company with the Rose-Breasted Grosbeak.

The song of the Grosbeak is singularly like that of the Robin, and to one not thoroughly familiar with the notes of the latter a difference would not at first be detected. There is a very decided difference, however, and by repeatedly listening to both species in full voice it will be discovered more and more clearly. The sweet and gentle strains of music harmonize delightfully, and the concert they make is well worth the careful attention of the discriminating student. The value of such study will be admitted by all who know how little is known of the songsters. A gentleman recently said to us that one day in November the greater part of the football field at the south end of Lincoln Park was covered with Snow Birds. There were also on the field more than one hundred grammar and high school boys waiting the arrival of the football team. There was only one person present who paid any attention to the birds which were picking up the food, twittering, hopping, and flying about, and occasionally indulging in fights, and all utterly oblivious of the fact that there were scores of shouting school boys around and about them. The gentleman called the attention of one after another of ten of the high school boys to the snow birds and asked what they were. They one and all declared they were English Sparrows, and seemed astounded that any one could be so ignorant as not to know what an English Sparrow was. So much for the city-bred boy’s observation of birds.

Evening Grosbeak (Hesperiphona vespertina) male by Raymond Barlow

Evening Grosbeak (Hesperiphona vespertina) male by Raymond Barlow


In the far Northwest we find this beautiful bird the year around. During the winter he often comes farther south in company with his cousin, the Rose-Breasted Grosbeak.

What a beautiful sight it must be to see a flock of these birds—Evening Grosbeaks and Rose-Breasted in their pretty plumage.

Grosbeaks belong to a family called Finches. The Sparrows, Buntings, and Crossbills belong to the same family. It is the largest family among birds.

You will notice that they all have stout bills. Their food is mostly grains and their bills are well formed to crush the seeds.

Look at your back numbers of “Birds” and notice the pictures of the other Finches I have named. Don’t you think Dame Nature is very generous with her colors sometimes?

Only a few days ago while strolling through the woods with my field glass, I saw a pretty sight. On one tree I saw a Redheaded Woodpecker, a Flicker, an Indigo Bunting, and a Rose-Breasted Grosbeak. I thought then, if we could only have the Evening Grosbeak our group of colors would be complete.

Have you ever wondered at some birds being so prettily dressed while others have such dull colors?

Some people say that the birds who do not sing must have bright feathers to make them attractive. We cannot believe this. Some of our bright colored birds are sweet singers, and surely many of our dull colored birds cannot sing very well.

Next month you will see the pictures of several home birds. See if dull colors have anything to do with sweet song.

Lee’s Addition:

Evening Grosbeak (Hesperiphona vespertina) female by Raymond Barlow

Evening Grosbeak (Hesperiphona vespertina) female by Raymond Barlow

By awesome deeds you answer us with righteousness, O God of our salvation, the hope of all the ends of the earth and of the farthest seas; the one who by his strength established the mountains, being girded with might; who stills the roaring of the seas, the roaring of their waves, the tumult of the peoples, so that those who dwell at the ends of the earth are in awe at your signs. You make the going out of the morning and the evening to shout for joy. (Psalms 65:5-8 ESV)

What a beautiful bird the Lord created in the Evening Grosbeak. The Grosbeaks are in the Cardinalidae – Grosbeaks, Saltators & Allies Family. There are 17 Grosbeaks in the family and are found in 9 genera. The Evening Grosbeak is in the

The Evening Grosbeak (Coccothraustes vespertinus) is a large finch. In the past, it was treated in a genus of its own as Hesperiphona vespertina, but is now usually placed in the same genus as the Hawfinch of Eurasia.

The breeding habitat is coniferous and mixed forest across Canada and the western mountainous areas of the United States and Mexico. It is an extremely rare vagrant to the British Isles, with just two records so far. The nest is built on a horizontal branch or in a fork of a tree.

The migration of this bird is variable; in some winters, it may wander as far south as the southern U.S.

The Evening Grosbeak is similar in appearance to the Eurasian Hawfinch, both being bulky, heavily built finches with large bills and short tails. The Evening Grosbeak ranges in length from 6.3 to 8.7 in (16 to 22 cm) in length and spans 12 to 14 in (30 to 36 cm) across the wings. In a large sampling of grosbeaks in Pennsylvania during winter, males weighed from 1.37 to 3.04 oz (38.7 to 86.1 g), with an average of 2.1 oz (60 g), while females weighed from 1.52 to 2.59 oz (43.2 to 73.5 g), with an average of 2.07 oz (58.7 g). The adult has a short black tail, black wings and a large pale bill. The adult male has a bright yellow forehead and body; its head is brown and there is a large white patch in the wing. The adult female is mainly olive-brown, greyer on the underparts and with white patches in the wings.

These birds forage in trees and bushes, sometimes on the ground. They mainly eat seeds, berries and insects. Outside of the nesting season they often feed in flocks. Sometimes, they will swallow fine gravel.

The range of this bird has expanded far to the east in historical times, possibly due to plantings of Manitoba maples and other maples and shrubs around farms and the availability of bird feeders in winter.

“Calls from a large flock visiting a feeder” – from xeno-canto


Birds Illustrated by Color Photography – Revisited – Introduction

The above article is the first article in the monthly serial that was started in January 1897 “designed to promote Knowledge of Bird-Live.” These include Color Photography, as they call them, today they are drawings. There are at least three Volumes that have been digitized by Project Gutenberg.

To see the whole series of – Birds Illustrated by Color Photography – Revisited


(Information from Wikipedia and other internet sources)

Next Article – The Turkey Vulture

The Previous Article – Wilson’s Phalarope

Wordless Birds


Cardinalidae – Grosbeaks, Saltators & Allies Family

Evening Grosbeak Wikipedia

Evening Grosbeak All About Birds

Evening Grosbeak Sounds – xeno-canto


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