English and Scientific names:

Black-headed Grosbeak  

Pheucticus melanocephalus

Number of individuals: 

1 individual first winter male


Jefferson Parish

Specific Locality:

Harahan residence, yard, Colonial Club Drive, 1 block from Mississippi River levee

Date(s) when observed:

02/20/10 and 02/21/10

Time(s) of day when observed:  

11:15AM and 1:00PM respectively

Reporting observer and address:

Cathy DiSalvo

Harahan LA

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

Lisette Wroten (owner of property)
Glenn Ousset
Mary Mehaffey (photographer)
Janine Robin
Bob Eble

Other observers who independently identified the bird(s)

unknown if id'd independently but all observers concurred

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

Bird seen in multiple sites ---Holly Tree--mixed shade
open lawn---bright unobstructed light and in full shade
bird feeder ---in bright light
live oaks--dappled shade and sun

Optical equipment: 

new zeiss 10x40 victory

Distance to bird(s): 

holly tree   50 feet
lawn----35-45 ft
oak----25-30 ftbird

Duration of observation:

seen several times over a 2 day period at 2-5 minute increments


Residential yard 80'x50' with multiple feeders surrounded by large live oaks with shrub borders with bird baths, and several feeders of suet and black oiled sunflower seeds

Behavior of bird: 

Bird first seen 02/20/10 at 11:15AM on feeder located in the middle of the yard feeding on black oiled sunflower seed. On each occasion bird was viewed from an covered carport.
I was the sole observer and watched him for about 2 minutes before it flew to edge of garden in hedges resting for several minutes then flew away.  He did not return for rest of viewing period---45'

On 02/21/10 observers viewed yard beginning around 10:30 AM, played tape several times without response.  At 1:00 PM the grosbeak was seen in a large Buford Holly, moving around, then flew out to shrubs then into the oaks above the yard. He was watched for about 10 minutes before he briefly came to the sunflower feeder. Then disappeared.


Large headed, with large cone shaped bill. Upper mandible dark, lower mandible dull orange-yellow. About a 7-8 inch stocky bird, larger than American goldfinch that was using the feeder next to it. Long supercilium was pale cinnamon in rear lightening to whitish at bill. Central crown stripe was greyish white. Dark grey brown ear patch, tail, wings and back.  Wings with 2 white wing bars, upper wider and bold. Throat, breast, nape, flanks, medium cinnamon colored, not buffy as fall rose breasted grosbeak. Dark streaks on back. White feather on lower breast.
Dark eye, dark legs.


bird did not vocalize

Similar species:

Bird is very similar to rose breasted grosbeak winter males.  Body size and shape are identical and markings are similar except for color and streaking. The black headed grosbeak is cinnamon colored not buffy as the rose breasted nor does it have the streaking on the breast.

Photographs or tape recordings obtained?

photos by Mary Mehaffey---attached

Previous experience with this species: 

National Geographic Field Guide to the birds of North America 5th edition
The Sibley Guide to Birds
Louisiana Birds by Lowery
email consult with David Muth

Identification aids:

notes made immediately after observation

This description is written from: 


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


after several observations, and with photos, confident of ID

Date and time: