South Dakota
Birds and Birding
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Blue Grosbeak

Passerina caerulea

Length: 7 inches Wingspan: 11 inches Seasonality: Summer
ID Keys: Extremely thick bill, rust-colored wing-bars, dark blue body (male)

Blue Grosbeak - Passerina caeruleaThe Blue Grosbeak is a denizen of thickets and brushy woodland edges.  It is distinguished from the similar Indigo Bunting by its larger size, larger and thicker bill, and rust-colored wing-bars.  Like many species, they have expanded their range to the north in recent decades.

Habitat: Prefers brushy low growth for breeding, preferably in semi-open country.  This can include fencelines, brushy fields, streamside thickets, hedgerows, and woodland edges.

Diet: The summer diet consists of many insects and spiders, as well as seeds and occasionally snails.  The winter diet consists of a greater proportion of seeds and waste grain, along with insects.

Behavior: Does much of its foraging on the ground, grabbing insects and seeds from the ground or from nearby foliage, or flying up to capture insects stirred up by its movements.  They will also forage in brush and undergrowth, and low in trees.

Nesting: June through August

Breeding Map: Breeding bird survey map

Song: Blue Grosbeak song

Migration: Summers throughout much of the southern three-fourths of the U.S.  Winters in Mexico and points south.

Similar Species:  Indigo Bunting, Lazuli Bunting See the Identification Tips page for differentiating between these species.

Bird Feeders: Will attend feeders for many seeds and grains.

Conservation Status: Breeding populations have expanded northward recently.  There are also some indications that they've increased in numbers throughout much of their historical range.

Further Information: 1) Patuxent Bird Identification InfoCenter, Blue Grosbeak

2) Cornell University's "All About Birds - Blue Grosbeak"

3) Blue Grosbeak

Photo Information: May 26th, 2014 - Minnehaha County, South Dakota - Terry Sohl

Additional Photos: Click on the image chips or text links below for additional, higher-resolution Blue Grosbeak photos.


Click on the map below for a higher-resolution view
Blue Grosbeak - Range Map
South Dakota Status: Uncommon summer resident in the southern part of the state, rare in the north.