Blue GrosbeakPasserina caerulea

adult male
Rob Curtis/VIREO
adult female
Brian E. Small/VIREO
juvenile male
Brian E. Small/VIREO
immature male (1st spring)
Rick and Nora Bowers/VIREO
adult male
Brian E. Small/VIREO
Blue Grosbeak
Blue Grosbeak

Family

Description

6-7 1/2" (15-19 cm). Slightly larger than a House Sparrow. Male dark blue with 2 chestnut wing bars and a stout, dark bill. Female dark buff-brown with 2 buff wing bars. Indigo Bunting similar, but is smaller, lacks wing bars.

Voice

Sweet, jumbled warble. Also a metallic klink.

Listen

tink call
pit calls & female courtship notes
pit call
song #2
song #1

Habitat

Brushy moist pastures and roadside thickets.

Range

Breeds from California, Colorado, Missouri, Illinois, and New Jersey southward. Winters in tropics.

Discussion

After breeding, small flocks of Blue Grosbeaks feed together or mix with other seed-eating birds such as sparrows. They also search out insects, especially grasshoppers, that live in the grassy vegetation of open fields.

Nesting

3 or 4 pale blue eggs in a loose cup of grass, weed stems, and leaves concealed in a clump of weeds.

Similar Species

adult male

Mountain Bluebird

7" (18 cm). Male pure sky-blue above, paler blue below, with a white abdomen; female similar, but duller and grayer.

adult male

Blue Bunting

5 - 5 1/2" (13-14 cm). Male is dark blue-black overall, somewhat paler on the crown, rump and shoulders; coloration of the male Indigo Bunting, by comparison, is relatively uniform.

adult male, breeding

Lazuli Bunting

5-5 1/2" (13-14 cm). Sparrow-sized. Male bright blue with pale cinnamon breast, white belly and wing bars. Female dull brown, lighter below, with 2 pale wing bars.

adult male

Painted Bunting

5 1/2" (14 cm). Sparrow-sized. Perhaps North America's most colorful bird: male has bright red underparts and rump, green back, blue head, and red eye ring; female bright green all over, paler below.

adult male

Indigo Bunting

5 1/2" (14 cm). Sparrow-sized. In bright sunlight male brilliant turquoise blue, otherwise looks black; wings and tail darker. Female drab brown, paler beneath.

adult male

Varied Bunting

4 1/2-5 1/2" (11-14 cm). Sparrow-sized. Male dark purple-blue, with a dull red patch on nape; looks all black at a distance. Female dull gray-brown without distinctive markings.

adult male

Dickcissel

6" (15 cm). Male like miniature meadowlark (yellow breast with black V), but has heavy bill and chestnut wing patch.

Vireo

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