English and Scientific names:

Black-headed Grosbeak (Pheucticus melanocephalus)

Number of individuals: 

1 first year male

Locality: LOUISIANA: 

Broussard, Lafayette Parish.


Specific Locality:

Zoo of Acadiana


Date(s) when observed:

December 10, 2004

Time(s) of day when observed:  

ca. 1:00 p.m.

Reporting observer and address:

James W. Beck

Broussard, LA 70518

Other observers accompanying reporter who also identified the bird(s):


Light conditions (position of bird in relation to shade and to direction and amount of light):

clear sky, sunshine, bird was in direct sunlight on an exposed branch.

Optical equipment: 

Swift Egret 10x42

Distance to bird(s): 

ca. 30 feet

Duration of observation:

ca. 45 seconds-1 minute.


Pecan tree, surrounded by more of the same, water and live oaks, and open areas with second growth wood edge.

Behavior of bird: 

Bird was at first seen sitting stationary in the tree, and then turned to face me, and then wiped beak on a branch, and then looked around a few times before flying off into a live oak, where I lost sight of it.


The breast was a warm, not too deep orange...with no streaking.  The face had a strong white mustacial stripe, and a smaller, but obvious white stripe coming out behind the eye, forming a dark pocket around the auriculars.  The crown was a lighter color.  Beak thick and heavy-looking...upper mandible darker in shade than lower.  Mantle and scapular feathers seemed dark, with buffy edging.  Two white wingbars noted when wing was folded in perched stance.  When the bird flew, he showed off yellowish under-wing linings and white markings in the primaries.



Similar species:

Rose-breasted Grosbeak--first year birds of this species can be similar, but in this case, the obvious lack of any streaking on the breast, more pronounced "mustacial" stripe, manible color differential and under-wing color ruled out this species.


Blue Grosbeak--face pattern, white, not buffy wingbars, and breast color.


Lazuli Bunting--size, more pronounced wingbars, face and mantle feathering, flight stronger.


Photographs or tape recordings obtained?


Previous experience with this species: 

First observed this species in southeastern Arizona in 1994.  Seen there on subsequent trips in 1996, 1999 and 2001.  Have also seen in Big Bend, Texas in 1995.  And only other Louisiana sighting was on the New Orleans CBC with David Muth in 2000? (can't remember year exactly).

Identification aids:

previous experience

This description is written from: 


Are you positive of your identification? If not, explain: 




James W. Beck

Date and time: 

December 10, 2004

8:31 p.m. CST