As noted in the parent article, the scientific name of the Black-headed Grosbeak reflects its genetic proximity to Rose-breasted Grosbeak, since they share the same genus name. It’s pretty easy to differentiate male Black-headeds (photo on left) from male Rose-breasteds (photo on right), as long as you have your eyes open. But the females, although distinct also, require a closer look. As you can see in the photos below, both females have a brown streaky appearance. However, the female Black-headed (below left) has a orangish-buffy chest under the brown streaks, while a female Rose-breasted (below right) has a lighter, whiter chest under the brown streaks. In addition, the female Black-headed has a bi-colored, with a dark upper beak and a lighter lower beak. The female Rose-breasted has an overall pale beak.
Despite sharing a similar common name, Evening Grosbeaks are not closely related to either of these grosbeaks. Our feeders have been mobbed by these big noisy finches since March, with their “referee whistle” calls boring through your brain even when you’re inside with all of the windows and doors sealed tight. These birds should be heading to the high country for breeding soon—and not soon enough for me, I’m sorry to say. Enough of a good thing is enough!
One of the loveliest aspects of the Black-headed Grosbeak is its lovely song, which some say sounds like an American Robin that has had singing lessons. You can hear a sample of this song here.