Article and photos by Charly Mann
Blue Grosbeaks usually live in thickets near fenced-in pasture land. Unless you are very close they can easily be mistaken for the more common Indigo Bunting. However the Grosbeak is at least 20% larger and has brown wing bars.
Blue Grosbeak in northeast Oklahoma five miles south of Kansas
There is something especially wonderful about seeing a bird that is blue. There are many songs, stories, and poems that feature a blue bird, and it is usually the Eastern Bluebird that we think is being mentioned, yet that bird is less than 40% blue. To me the real blue birds are the male Indigo Bunting and the male Blue Grosbeak.
Blue Grosbeak enjoying a beautiful Oklahoma morning
It takes three years for male Blue Grosbeaks to become essentially blue all over. At maturity most of the body of these birds is a rich blue color. Their tail and wings are black as well as a small mask around their eyes. They have two brown wing bars and a silver bill. Female Blue Grosbeaks are primarily brown with some blue coloring in the rear.
Blue Grosbeak view of black tail and wings
Blue Grosbeaks usually place their nest on the ground concealed by surrounding grass.
Like Indigo and Painting Buntings, the Blue Grosbeak is a member of the finch family.
Blue Grosbeak's diet consists of grasshoppers, beetles, cicadas and seeds of wild grasses. I often see them foraging for food in fields in northeast Oklahoma.
Male Blue Grosbeak showing his brown wing bars
Young Blue Grosbeaks of both sexes are primarily brown. As the male ages it develops blue areas on its body.
I took over two dozen pictures of this bird. Only its face was blue. I am fairly certain it is a juvenile male Blue Grosbeak or a UFO.
Blue Grosbeaks spend late Spring and most of the Summer in the lower half of the United States including Oklahoma, but spend the majority of the year in southern Mexico and Central America.
Blue Grosbeaks often live as long as six years.