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Black-headed Grosbeak Sings!

One of the most distinctive voices of the West and Southwest

The song of this male Black-headed Grosbeak has been described as that of a drunken or scat-singing robin. Compare the songs of both birds, and draw your own conclusion! Singing Black-headed Grosbeaks can be heard from May well into summer, especially in streamside woods.

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Full Transcript



Black-headed Grosbeak - Singing Under the Influence?

Written by Bob Sundstrom

This is BirdNote!

[Black-headed Grosbeak song] 

A lilting, brightly whistled song erupts from a source hidden by the leaves of a tall alder tree. [Black-headed Grosbeak song] The song continues, but where the heck is the singer? [Black-headed Grosbeak song] At last a bird appears atop the alder, still singing. It’s a stocky, orange bird with a black head, a large, thick bill, and bold white blazes on its black wings. You’ve just found a male Black-headed Grosbeak. 

[Black-headed Grosbeak song]

Its song rings out from May well into summer, one of the most distinctive bird voices of the West and Southwest. The song has been described as that of a drunken or scat-singing robin. (It does slur some of its notes and the song does have a syncopated feel to it.) 

Why not draw your own conclusion? 

Here’s the lovely but more methodical song of the American Robin-- 

[American Robin singing] 

And now the up-tempo performance of the Black-headed Grosbeak-- 

[Black-headed Grosbeak song]

Listen for the rollicking song of the Black-headed Grosbeak this summer, especially in streamside woods. Its singer could have come all the way from Southern Mexico. 

[Black-headed Grosbeak song]

For BirdNote, I’m Michael Stein. 


Bird sounds provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Song of Black-headed Grosbeak [126546] T. Sander and song of American Robin [105684] recorded by G.A. Keller. 

BirdNote's theme music was composed and played by Nancy Rumbel and John Kessler.

Producer: John Kessler

Executive Producer: Chris Peterson

© 2014 Tune In to  June 2018/2019  Narrator: Michael Stein

ID#061406BHGR          BHGR-01b

Sights & Sounds

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