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The Black-headed and Rose-breasted Grosbeaks have unusual diets for birds with such a big seed-eating beak. Throughout most of the year, over half their diet is made up of insects.Their huge beaks allow them to eat large grasshoppers, crickets and other insects that have tough exoskeletons. Learn more about grosbeaks.
• Other birds like to eat wild cherries, but only Evening Grosbeaks target the pits. The slippery seeds are held firmly with special pads on the “gross beak” and are simply crushed. So favored are cherry pits that Evening Grosbeaks sometimes seek out the pits voided by American Robins.
• Evening Grosbeaks manipulate cherries in their beak to remove the outer skin and flesh, the remaining seed is then swallowed after it is cracked open with their beak.
• Evening Grosbeaks can break open food items that require up to 125 pounds of force to fracture apart in testing devices
.• As with many finches whose diet is primarily vegetarian, Evening Grosbeaks are attracted to natural salt and mineral sources.
• The Evening Grosbeak is an irruptive migrant that makes irregular appearances at winter feeding stations throughout much of United States.
• The Evening Grosbeak was not commonly found east of the Rocky Mountains before the 1850’s. Winter irruptions now occur in all of the 48 contiguous states. This expansion may be attributed to widespread planting of box elder trees in landscapes across the east. Its seeds persist on the tree throughout the winter and provided flocks with a reliable source of food.
• The Evening Grosbeak was named in 1825 based on erroneous accounts that they became vocal and active only “at the approach of night.” This erroneous belief persisted for years, and the name is still a misnomer.
• Evening Grosbeaks seem to delight in snipping off the twigs of Sugar Maple trees and sipping the sweet sap.