blue grosbeak

BLUE GROSBEAK(Passerina caerulea) – (See images below)
DESCRIPTION: The Blue Grosbeak male is medium blue for the most part, with cinnamon bands on the wings and some black patches on the wings and tail. There is a fine band of black plumage at the bill base. Large, conical bill is grey. Eyes are black, legs and feet are grey. Female has a light cinnamon head, nape and back, black and white wings and tail, and grey-yellowish under parts. Bird length is around 15 cm (6 inches).
VOICE: https://www.xeno-canto.org/species/Passerina-caerulea
NAME: ‘Grosbeak’ refers to the large bill size relative to the head. Latin genus name ‘Passerina’ means ‘sparrow-like’. Latin species name ‘caerulea’ means ‘blue’.
HABITAT: Forest edges, scrub land, mesquite groves.
DIET: Seeds, insects, some grain.
NESTING: Nest is built in a shrub or low part of a tree. Snakeskin is sometimes used as nest material as a way of repelling potential predators. Around four light-blue eggs are laid, incubated by female, who also feeds the chicks for the most part. Nest is parasitized by Brown-headed Cowbird.
DISTRIBUTION: Breeds in the southern half of the USA, winters in Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean.
Distribution Map: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_grosbeak – /media/File:Passerina_caerulea_map.svg
ON PEI: Does not breed on Prince Edward Island, sightings listed as ‘accidental’ so far. See note below on bird vagrancy.
CONSERVATION: Numbers appear stable or slightly increasing, species currently not at risk.
Vagrancy: In biology this means an animal going way outside its normal range. For birds, this can happen when there are storms and they get blown off course. On other times, the bird simply wanders in a different direction than usual. Here’s an article about vagrancy in birds.
SIMILAR SPECIES: Indigo Bunting
REFERENCES: https://nature.mdc.mo.gov/discover-nature/field-guide/blue-grosbeak (Missouri Department of Conservation)
http://identify.whatbird.com/obj/207/behavior/Blue_Grosbeak.aspx
https://www.audubon.org/field-guide/bird/blue-grosbeak
http://fieldguide.mt.gov/speciesDetail.aspx?elcode=ABPBX64010 (Montana Field Guide)
https://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Passerina_caerulea/ (University of Michigan)
https://txtbba.tamu.edu/species-accounts/blue-grosbeak/ (Texas Breeding Bird Atlas)
https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Blue_Grosbeak/lifehistory

Blue Grosbeak, male - Freeport, TX - Apr. 2011 - photo by Dan Pancamo
Blue Grosbeak, male – Freeport, TX – Apr. 2011 – photo by Dan Pancamo
Blue Grosbeak, female - Ash, NC - Apr. 2011 - photo by Dick Daniels
Blue Grosbeak, female – Ash, NC – Apr. 2011 – photo by Dick Daniels
Blue Grosbeak, 1st summer male - San Luis Obispo Co., CA - Apr. 2011 - photo by Bill Bouton
Blue Grosbeak, 1st summer male – San Luis Obispo Co., CA – Apr. 2011 – photo by Bill Bouton

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