Sunday, July 11, 2021

Blue Grosbeak

On a drive outside Roswell, New Mexico, at Bitter Lake NWR, I noticed a bird that at first reminded me of a red-winged blackbird. It appeared black and had red on its wing. Then as I looked closer I noticed it looked more deep-blue and the red on the wing was mixed with a dark area. I didn't get what I felt was a good photo, but I looked forward to looking at my photos and determining what I'd seen. 
iNaturalist indicated it was a blue grosbeak, a bird I'd never heard of before. I'd heard of grosbeaks in general, but don't recall ever seeing one. 
Grosbeaks all have large beaks. The name comes from the French word "gros-bec" meaning big beak and that really is what gives the different species called grosbeak the name. Many of  the species that are grouped together as grosbeaks really have little relation to each other: they are what is referred to as a polyphyletic relationship. There are 13 species of finch that are called grosbeaks, there are 17 species of cardinal that are called grosbeaks and 2 species of tanager that are called grosbeaks. The blue grosbeak is a species of cardinal. 
The male blue grosbeak is blue with black and chestnut wingbars. During breading season it is a deep solid blue and outside of breeding season it is a patchy blue with cinnamon. This blue grosbeak is in its breeding season. The female is mostly brown. Both sexes have a large bill and a set of double wing bars. There are seven subspecies, but I find nothing that delineates them. 

1 comment:

  1. The beak doesn't look THAT big, but it does have a bit of a parrot look.