Blue Grosbeak

Passerina caerulea
Blue Grosbeak specimens on display in the exhibit "Birds of D.C."

A large (6-7 ½ inches) bunting, the male Blue Grosbeak is most easily identified by its dark blue body, chestnut and tan wing stripes, and large conical bill. The female Blue Grosbeak is brown overall with dark wings and orange wing bars. This species is most easily distinguished from the related Indigo Bunting (Passerina cyanea) by the latter species’ smaller size and paler plumage in both sexes. The Blue Grosbeak breeds across the southern half of the United States and northern Mexico. In winter, these populations migrate south to southern Mexico and the east coast of Central America. Blue Grosbeaks are present all year in the highlands of central Mexico and the west coast of Central America. Blue Grosbeaks breed in and around shrubby edges of deciduous and evergreen woodland. During the winter, this species may be found in overgrown fields and clearings in humid tropical forests. Blue Grosbeaks primarily eat insects and seeds. In appropriate habitat, Blue Grosbeaks may be seen foraging for food in shrubs and low tree branches. Birdwatchers may also listen for this species’ song, a series of warbled notes recalling that of a finch. Blue Grosbeaks are primarily active during the day.

DC Information

A rare summer resident from early May to mid-September. Nests late May to early August. Found in wood margins and road-sides. The male is bright blue; the female, brown.

Specimen Information

This exhibit includes three birds.  Both birds at the top are males with a female below.
This is the record for the male on the right.  
Date:  Spring 1878
Collected By:  R Ridgway/H Marshall
Locality:  Laurel, MD
Sex:  Male
Catalog ID:  83736
The female is at the bottom; this is the record for that bird.
Date:  1850
Collected By:  D Porter USN
Locality:  Washington, DC
Sex:  Female
Catalog ID:  12483

Distribution Map

distribution map for this species

Bird Vocalizations

Passerina caerulea

Passerina caerulea

Sound from xeno-canto. XC28786 Passerina caerulea (Blue Grosbeak)