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Blue Grosbeak - A Bluer Blue Bird

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 close-up
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 fron view
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 back side
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.

Blue Grosbeak detail
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.

Juvenile Blue Grosbeak
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.

 
 

Comments:

Stephen      3:46 PM Tue 6/9/2015

Yesterday I saw what looked like a Blue Grosbeak hanging around our front gate in Oklahoma. I thought it was unusual that he stayed so long. Beautiful little thing just doing what the Lord made him to do. This morning leaving for work I saw a little nest with 3 eggs on the ground in the grass by the gate post... My guess is that it's the Grosbeak's!
 

Cathy Oldenburg      3:50 PM Mon 4/27/2015

Today was my second sighting of the blue grosbeak, the first being several years ago. We live in south central MO.
 

Faye      6:22 PM Tue 5/27/2014

I live in a rural area of Northeast Alabama and I spotted a Blue Grosbeak in our back yard in the edge of a wooded area eating grass seed. He is beautiful. I was so surprised to see him there.
 

Janice Coulter      6:37 PM Fri 4/25/2014

My husband & I Gary saw a Blue Grosbeak earlier around 7:00 pm in our backyard on 4-25-14. We live in Sugar Hill, GA & have never seen this bird before. We were excited to see it & looked it up on Google. It said it was in Oklahoma, New Mexico & Central America. How in the world did it get to GA?
 

C. Robbins      3:16 PM Mon 6/17/2013

While traveling south on I 87 near Saratoga Springs NY, I saw a Blue Grosbeak sitting on a limb just off the right shoulder of the road. Did not know (at that moment) what kind of bird it was until I searched the web. At first I thought it was a (bluebird on steroids) until it turned and I saw that the entire body was blue and the bird was much larger than a bluebird. My question is could it be possible since it appears that this Grosbeak is native to Oklahoma? I'm curious if all the storms could have blown this poor bird that far off course?
 


Uplifting Visions
a guide to happiness, good health, and success
Charly Mann in a Hawaiian shirt
by Charly Mann

From the age of seven I have been enchanted with the idea of living happily ever after, and have made it a life quest to find that answer. I have spoken to hundreds of people – usually older and wiser than me, and read countless books and articles on the subject. In my website Uplifting Visions I share what I consider the best insights I have learned about achieving happiness in life.



Oklahoma Birds Listed by Color

Red
House Finch - male (carpodacus mexicanus)
Purple Finch - male (carpodacus purpureus)
Northern Cardinal - male (cardinalis cardinalis)
Painted Bunting - male (passerina ciris)
Summer Tanager - male (piranga rubra)

Orange
Baltimore Oriole - male (icterus galbula)
Orchard Oriole - male (icterus spurius)

Yellow
Yellow Warbler (dendroica petechia )
Baltimore Oriole - female (icterus galbula)
Orchard Oriole - female (icterus spurius)
Summer Tanager - female (piranga rubra)
Yellow Goldfinch - male (carduelis tristis)
Western Kingbird (tyrannus verticalis)
Eastern Meadowlark (sturnella magna)

Green
Malard - male (anas platyrhynchos)
Dark-eyed Junco - female (junco hyemalis)
Ruby-throated Hummingbird (archilochus colubris)
Painted Bunting - female (passerina ciris)
Green Heron (butorides virescens)

Blue
Barn Swallow (hirundo rustica)
Belted Kingfisher (ceryle alcyon)
Blue Jay (cyanocitta cristata)
Blue Grosbeak - male (guiraca caerulea)
Eastern Bluebird (sailia sialis)
Indigo Bunting - male (passerina cyanea)
Purple Martin - male (progne subis)

Grey
Great Blue Heron (ardea herodias)
Carolina Chickadee (poecile carolinensis)
Eastern Screech-Owl (otus asio)
Red-breasted Nuthatch (sitta canadensis)
Grey Catbird (dumetella carolinensis)
Ruby-crowned Kinglet (regulus calendula)
Scissor-Tailed Flycatcher (tyrannus forficatus)
White-breasted Nuthatch (sitta carolinensis)
Tufted Titmouse (baelophus bicolor)
American Robin (turdus migratorius)
Northern Mockingbird (mimus polyglottos)
Mississippi Kite (ictinia mississippiensis)
Dickcissel (spiza americana)

Black
American Crow (corvus brachyrhynchos)
Brown-headed Cowbird - male (molothrus ater)
European Starling (sturnus vulgaris)
Common Grackle (quiscalus quiscula)
Red-winged Blackbird - male (agelaius phoeniceus)
Spotted Towhee (pipilo maculatus)
Turkey Vulture (cathartes aura)

Black & White
American Bald Eagle (haliaeetus leucocephalus)
Black-billed Magpie (pica hudsonia)
Downey Woodpecker (picoides pubescens)
Red-Bellied Woodpecker (melanerpes carolinus)
Purple Martin - female (progne subis)
Eastern Kingbird (tyrannus tyrannus)
Dark-eyed Junco - male (junco hyemalis)
Loggerhead Shrike (lanius ludovicianus)

Brown
American Kestrel (falco sparverius)
Blue Grosbeak - female (guiraca caerulea)
Brown-headed Cowbird - female (molothrus ater)
Brown Thrasher (toxostoma rufum)
Common Nighthawk (chordeiles minor)
Carolina Wren (thryothorus ludovicianus)
Cedar Waxwing (bombycilla cedrorum)
Greater Roadrunner (geococcyx californianus)
Killdeer (charadrius vociferus)
Northern Bobwhite (colinus virginianus)
Red-tailed Hawk (buteo jamaicensis)
Cliff Swallow (petrochelidon pyrrhonota)
Horned Lark (eremophila alpestris)
House Finch - female (carpodacus mexicanus)
Northern Flicker (colaptes auratus)
Yellow-billed Cuckoo (coccyzus americanus)
Mourning Dove (zenaida macroura)
Malard - female (anas platyrhynchos)
Purple Finch - female (carpodacus purpureus)
House Sparrow (passer domesticus)
Indigo Bunting - female (passerina cyanea)
Red-winged Blackbird - female (agelaius phoeniceus)
Spotted Sandpiper (actitis macularia)
Upland Sandpiper (bartramia longicauda)
Northern Cardinal - female (cardinalis cardinalis)
Eastern Screech-Owl (otus asio)
Yellow Goldfinch - female (carduelis tristis)
Canada Goose (branta canadensis)

Various
Wild Birds of Northeast OK

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