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Beaks and Grosbeaks

How many kinds of grosbeaks ARE there, exactly?
© Mark Moschell View Large

Beaks suited for opening tough, hard seeds—thick, conical beaks—evolved in more than one lineage of birds. Rose-breasted Grosbeaks are related to cardinals, which also have powerful beaks. Evening Grosbeaks belong to the finch family, which includes goldfinches and crossbills—an entire family of seedeaters. But both these grosbeaks were named before their family connections were fully understood.

Today's show brought to you by the Bobolink Foundation.

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Transcript: 

BirdNote®

Beaks and Grosbeaks

Written by Bob Sundstrom

This is BirdNote.
[Evening Grosbeak: ML160442941  A Gliozzo]
[Rose-breasted Grosbeak ML 156885851 P Brown]
The Rose-breasted Grosbeak and Evening Grosbeak take their names from their big, thick, seed-crunching beaks.
[crunch]
“Gros” comes from old European root words meaning “large” or “thick.” But surprisingly, the two birds aren’t closely related.
That's because beaks ideal for opening tough, hard seeds—thick, conical beaks—evolved in more than one lineage of birds.
Rose-breasted Grosbeaks are actually more closely related to cardinals, which also have powerful beaks.
[repeat above audio]
Whereas Evening Grosbeaks belong to the finch family, which includes goldfinches and crossbills, an entire family of seed-eating specialists.
But the two grosbeaks had their names before scientists understood that they weren't closely related.
Yet another kind of bird shares the grosbeak name. In areas with a Cajun heritage—in Southeast Texas and adjacent Louisiana—crawfish farmers speak of “gros-becs” (pronounced GROH-BEX).  Gros-bec is a regional name for the Yellow-crowned Night-Herons that hang around crawfish aquaculture ponds, in search of an easy meal.
[Yellow-crowned Night-Heron call, https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/167312461#_ga=2.208519578.942155871.15..., 0.07, repeat]
Yellow-crowned Night-Herons, too, are equipped with thick, stout beaks. Ideal for crunching crabs—and a farmer’s crawfish.
[Yellow-crowned Night-Heron call, https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/167312461#_ga=2.208519578.942155871.15..., 0.07, repeat]
For BirdNote, I’m Mary McCann.
Today’s show brought to you by the Bobolink Foundation.
###
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Sallie Bodie
Editor: Ashley Ahearn
Associate Producer: Ellen Blackstone
Producer: Mark Bramhill
Bird sounds provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Evening Grosbeak recorded by A Gliozzo. Rose-breasted Grosbeak recorded by P Brown. Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, 167312461, recorded by P Marvin.
BirdNote’s theme was composed and played by Nancy Rumbel and John Kessler.
© 2020 BirdNote   May 2020       Narrator: Mary McCann
 
ID#  grosbeak-02-2020-05-11    grosbeak-02
 
Gros bec named in night-heron photo
https://www.lsuagcenter.com/~/media/system/f/3/a/2/f3a27f60552c1f7663432...
Good summary of contemporary crawfish farming:
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=KkYfAEFR03Q

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