News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Sisters Country birds - 3/31/2021

Evening grosbeaks (Coccothraustes vespertinus) are returning to Central Oregon now in search of seeds and possible nesting sights. They were erroneously named by Midwest settlers in the 1800s, because they thought the birds only came out in the evening to sing. Nomadic by nature, the French Americans named them wandering grosbeaks. They travel in flocks, gracing the air with clear ringing chirps, descending to treetops or bird feeders to enjoy seeds and nuts or tree buds. The evening grosbeak is a songbird without a song, it does not seem to use any complex sounds to attract a mate or defend territory.

They choose a nest site in the upper canopies and the female builds the nest and lays two to five light blue eggs which incubate for 12-14 days and the chicks leave the nest in 13-14 days. They are fed insects, seeds, and young tree buds until able to find foods on their own.

Not much is known about their breeding habits as they are wary and nest mostly in high-altitude spruce trees. The male’s bill becomes greenish in spring and matches the color of spruce buds. In the past, flocks of evening grosbeaks have approached 10,000 individuals feeding in the treetops of the Willamette Valley. In Sisters they prefer ponderosa, cottonwood, and alder trees. A group of grosbeaks are known as a “gross” of grosbeaks. For more evening grosbeak photos, visit


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