English and Scientific names:

Black-headed Grosbeak

Pheucticus melanocephalus

Number of individuals: 

1 immature male.


Lafourche Parish

Specific Locality:

Thibodaux, 118 Nicholls Drive, home of Donna and Curtis Duplechain

Date(s) when observed:


Time(s) of day when observed:  


Reporting observer and address:

Nancy L Newfield, Casa ColibrŪ, 3016 45th Street, Metairie, LA 70001

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

Joan Garvey, Beth & Sammy Maniscalco.The homeowners had seen the bird the previous day, but they didnít know the species.

Other observers who independently identified the bird(s)


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

It was a bright, sunny day with the sun almost overhead.The bird was within the outer branches of a flowering Taiwan Cherry.Thus, it was in part sun, part shade.All of the observers were inside a large glassed-in sunroom.

Optical equipment: 

Swarovski 10 x 42 EL in excellent condition.

Distance to bird(s): 

15 feet.

Duration of observation:

about 5 minutes.


upscale, suburban yard.This yard had no hummingbird-attractive plants except two large Taiwan Cherry trees, but there were 2 feeders and the yard sloped down to an extensive swampy area.

Behavior of bird: 

The bird was perched within the outer branches about 8 feet above the paved patio.It appeared to be watching for a chance to hop onto one of the seed feeders, but it seemed hesitant to invade the horde of American Goldfinches that were gobbling sunflower seed.We were indoors running traps to catch hummingbirds just a few feet from the sunflower seed feeders.However, the Black-headed Grosbeak flew without attempting to use the feeders.Once it left the feeder area, we were unable to find it again.†††


This bird was a medium-sized finch-like bird a little more than 8 inches long.It was somewhat smaller than a male Northern Cardinal that was about 3 feet away.


Initially, I saw only the lower underparts, noting the bright buff to cinnamon flanks and dull white wedge extending from the undertail coverts to the mid breast.A small amount of yellow was mixed in with the white on the upper part of the white wedge.The flanks were not streaked.The legs were dark gray.


I moved closer to get a better view of the upper breast and head.The cinnamon extended to the throat and around the side of the neck.The face was dark brown with a wide, pale buff supercilium.The eye was dark.The stout, conical bill was dark gray, darker on the maxilla than on the mandible.The right wing was dark brown with a whitish shoulder bar and a whitish wing bar.The left wing, back, and tail were not visible from my vantage point.†††††††††††††


not heard

Similar species:

The only North American species similar to the Black-headed Grosbeak is the Rose-breasted Grosbeak.The unstreaked, bright buff to cinnamon underparts eliminated that species from consideration.††††

Photographs or tape recordings obtained?

attached see a photograph made at the time by Joan Garvey.

Previous experience with this species: 

Iíve seen dozens upon dozens out west in July and August, but none in this plumage.Previously, I have seen 3 or 4 in Louisiana during the winter.All were in a plumage similar to the subject bird.

Identification aids:

National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America and The Sibley Guide to Birds.

This description is written from: 


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



Date and time: 

Date: 03-15-2010

Time: 16:03 ††††††††††††††††††††††††