Connecticut Audbon Society

Daily Bird: Evening Grosbeak

Connecticut Audubon Board member Patrick J. Lynch painted these Evening Grosbeaks.

October 29, 2020 — Winter finch number three: Evening Grosbeak. There were a dozen at White Memorial Foundation in Litchfield and 11 in Barkhamsted on Sunday, October 25, and in New Milford, Connecticut Audubon member Jim Dugan saw four at his feeders on Tuesday — the first time he’d seen them at his feeder in 20 years.

For now, they seem to be biding their time just to the north. eBird shows a large concentration of sightings along the Connecticut River Valley in Massachusetts, from approximately Hadley up to Greenfield. They’ve been seen in West Virginia and Florida too.

The Finch Research Network issued an “Irruption Alert” the other day: “Look for Evening Grosbeaks to be foraging on Maple, Box Elder, and Ash samaras, on Cherry and Crabapple seeds, and on Sumac fruit.  At feeders this species prefers platform or hopper feeders well stocked with Black Oil Sunflower seeds. As winter finches go, the Evening Grosbeak is perhaps the most gorgeous of all, and we hope that many of you are lucky enough to enjoy them at your feeder during this winter!”

If Evening Grosbeaks or any of the other winter finches come to your feeder (or if you see them anywhere), email me ( with the details.

For today’s Daily Bird, we’re going back to something by Milan Bull, our senior director of science and conservation, from four years ago, edited and updated. And here’s a link to another Evening Grosbeak post, by our friend Greg Hanisek, from two years ago. Thank you. The Daily Bird will resume next week. — Tom Andersen

Evening Grosbeak
Coccothraustes vespertinus

Edited and updated from a version posted in October 2016

by Milan Bull,  Senior Director of Science and Conservation

Those of you who have packed on more than a few years of chasing birds will easily remember the 1950’s and 60’s when Evening Grosbeaks were welcome visitors to our winter feeders. Usually they came in small flocks and mobbed the sunflower tray for a day or two, then disappeared. Being large, colorful grosbeaks with massive bills and dressed in black, white and bright yellow, they were always greeted with joy and amazement.

At one point in the late 50’s we considered them common winter visitors and a few pairs even nested in Glastonbury in ’62. Since then they have become fairly unreliable at our feeders, showing up irregularly during the winter.

Now they seem to be more commonly heard than seen, calling as a few pairs pass overhead during migration in the fall and spring. 

Evening Grosbeak photo by Alan D. Wilson/

What it looks like: Unmistakable. A large, husky finch with a heavy, pale, conical bill. Adult males are yellow and black with a bold white patch in the wings. The dark head has a bright yellow chevron over the eye. Females are mostly grey with black and white wings.

Where to find it: Usually near forests, if you are lucky, as their movements in the winter are erratic and seemingly unpredictable. They breed in the conifer forests of northern North America and the mountains of the west and make forays into the northeastern states during fall and winter. Each winter lucky lottery winners, usually in the northern Connecticut towns, will be surprised by a few pairs at their sunflower feeders.







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