Grosbeak , the name of many conirostral birds of the finch family, and subfamily coc-eothraustinoe and spizinoe, or hawfinches, found in all parts of the world. One of the handsomest of the American species is the pine grosbeak (pinicola Canadensis, Cab.), classed by Gray among the bullfinches. In this genus the bill is short, stout, and much curved, and the base of the upper mandible nearly concealed by bristly feathers; the wings moderate, the second and third quills the longest; the tail shorter than the wings, broad and nearly even; tarsi as long as the middle toe, strongly scutel-lated, and the claws long and sharp. The length of the pine grosbeak is 8 1/2 in., and the extent of wings 14; the bill and legs are black; the general color of the plumage is bright carmine, with grayish brown centres to the feathers of the back; the loral region, lower jaw, sides, and lower parts, light gray; wings blackish brown, with two white bands, the outer edge of the quills also white. The female is ash-gray and brownish above, with yellow tinges below, and on the head, rump, and upper tail coverts; the young resemble the female, but are browner. This bird inhabits arctic America, coming as far south as Pennsylvania in severe winters.
It is a charming songster, singing toward sunset, and in captivity during the night; it is easily kept in cages, and will eat most kinds of seeds, berries, and fruits, becoming very familiar; in its wild state it feeds on the buds and seeds of various trees, especially of the firs. The flight is undulating and direct, and they alight on the topmost branches, from which they gradually descend; they are not shy, and are easily approached, especially while bathing. The nest is made of sticks, at a small distance from the ground, and lined with feathers; the eggs are generally four, and white. Other species are found in the pine forests of Europe and Asia; the P. enucleator of Europe is smaller with a less stout bill, narrower tail, and less white on the wings. - The evening grosbeak (hesperi-phona vespertina, Bonap.) is characterized by an enormous vaulted bill, of a greenish yellow color, much curved at the tip; the wings are long and pointed; the tail short, and its feathers narrow; the length is 8 in. The anterior half of the body is yellowish olive; outer scapulars, band over eye, axillaries, and middle under wing coverts, yellow; crown, tibiae, wings, upper tail coverts, and tail, black.
It is found in the northwest as far east as Sault Ste. Marie, and on the Pacific coast, especially about the Columbia river; from its abundance in the northern maple groves, it is called by the Indians sugar bird. The habits are those of the preceding species; they are noisy all day, and not in the evening only, as their name would indicate; their notes are harsh and screaming. The females have the head and back brownish, with yellowish ash rump, upper tail coverts spotted with white, and less white on the wings. - The rose-breasted grosbeak (guiraca Ludovi-ciana, Swains.) has a very thick, slightly arched bill, pointed wings longer than the even tail, and the tarsi shorter than the middle toe. The length is 8 1/2 in.; the general color above is glossy black, with the breast, axillaries, and under wing coverts carmine; the rest of lower parts, rump, upper tail coverts, middle wing coverts, spots on the wings, base of primaries and secondaries, and patch on the end of the inner webs of the outer three tail feathers, pure white. The female is brownish above, with yellowish marks and tinges. Its song is soft, clear, and sweet, and in captivity prolonged into the night.
It is found in the eastern states, as far west as Missouri, and south to Guatemala; it feeds on young and tender buds and seeds. Other species are the black-headed grosbeak (G. melanocephala, Swains.), found on the high central plains from Yellowstone river to the Pacific and on the table lands of Mexico, and the blue grosbeak (G. coerulea, Linn.), found in the southern states and across the continent. - For the cardinal grosbeak, see Cardinal Bird.
Evening Grosbeak (Hesperiphona vespertina). 1. Male. 2. Female.