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The Evening Grosbeak is a stocky songbird with a massive greenish-yellow bill. The adult male is boldly coloured with a dark brown head, brilliant yellow eyebrow stripe, yellow body and black tail. It has black wings with a distinct patch of white on each wing. The adult female is generally grayish-brown with a yellowish nape and flanks. Its wings and tail are black-and-white.

Weight: 53 to 74 g (1.9 to 2.6 oz). Length: 16 to 18 cm (6 to 7 in).

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The Evening Grosbeak is found year-round in the boreal forest including the southern NWT.

Three subspecies of Evening Grosbeak are recognized in North America.  The subspecies can be distinguished by their calls and distribution.

Range map information

The Evening Grosbeak breeds in open, mature conifer-dominated forests. It is a nomadic species whose movements are driven by a variable food supply. Evening Grosbeaks will move around as the food supply changes and are found in areas with abundant seeds or insects to eat. 

In winter, Evening Grosbeaks eat seeds and are found in areas where seed-crops, such as pine and spruce, are high. Evening Grosbeaks are familiar visitors at bird feeders. With its enormous bill, the Evening Grosbeak can crack seeds that are too large for smaller birds to open. Smaller birds sometimes seek out Evening Grosbeaks to eat the scraps they leave behind.

In summer, Evening Grosbeaks eat insects - especially Spruce Budworm, a native insect responsible for significant damage to forests across Canada. The Spruce Budworm has a natural cycle of periodic outbreaks that can attract large numbers of Evening Grosbeaks to an area. The Evening Grosbeak can act as natural pest control for the Spruce Budworm. 

The Evening Grosbeak expanded its range to eastern Canada in the early 20th century. Since 1970 the species has seen population declines of 77% to 86% over most of its range, correlated with Spruce Budworm cycles. Other potential reasons for decline are not well understood, but could include multiple threats or cumulative effects affecting Evening Grosbeak on their breeding grounds, wintering grounds, and during migration.

Potential threats in the Northwest Territories include loss or degradation of mature and old-growth forests from human-caused and natural disturbances. Human activities resulting in increased numbers of predators and declining food sources are also potential threats.

COSEWIC assessed Evening Grosbeak as Special Concern in 2016 because of population decline and threats. Evening Grosbeak was listed as Special Concern under the federal Species at Risk Act (SARA) in 2019.

Evening Grosbeaks and their nests are protected under the federal Migratory Birds Convention Act.

A national management plan for the Evening Grosbeak is available on the federal Species at Risk Public Registry.


Dehcho North Slave / Tłı̨chǫ South Slave