Search Field Guide
Advanced Search
Montana Animal Field Guide

Montana Field Guides

Evening Grosbeak - Coccothraustes vespertinus

Google for more images Google for web pages
Species of Concern

Global Rank: G5
State Rank: S3
* (see State Rank Reason below)

Agency Status
FWP Conservation Tier: 3


External Links

Listen to an Audio Sample

Copyright by: The Macaulay Library at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, all rights reserved.
State Rank Reason (see State Rank above)
Populations in Montana and across the Northern Rockies have undergone significant recent declines.
  • Details on Status Ranking and Review
    Evening Grosbeak (Coccothraustes vespertinus) Conservation Status Review
    Review Date = 12/22/2011
    View State Conservation Rank Criteria
    Population Size

    ScoreU - Unknown


    Range Extent

    ScoreF - 20,000-200,000 km squared (about 8,000-80,000 square miles)

    Comment174,759 square kilometers based on Natural Heritage Program range maps that appear on the Montana Field Guide.

    Area of Occupancy

    ScoreU - Unknown


    Long-term Trend

    ScoreE - Relatively Stable (±25% change)

    CommentConifer forest and mixed conifer forest habitats relatively stable within +/-25% since European arrival.

    Short-term Trend

    ScoreC - Rapidly Declining. Decline of 30-50% in population, range, area occupied, and/or number or condition of occurrences

    CommentBBS data has moderate credibility with a significant decline of -10.7% per year or 68% decrease per decade. For the entire Northern Rockies with highest credibility there is a significant decline of -6.9% per year or 51% decline per decade. Declines also noted with CBC data and project feeder watch.


    Score - Rank factor not assessed, including instances in which the species is extinct (or extirpated from the area of interest).

    CommentNo operational threats identified.

    SeverityUnknown - Unknown

    CommentNo operational threat identified.

    ScopeUnknown - Unknown

    CommentNo operational threat identified.

    ImmediacyUnknown - Unknown

    CommentNo operational threat identified.

    Intrinsic Vulnerability

    ScoreC - Not Intrinsically Vulnerable. Species matures quickly, reproduces frequently, and/or has high fecundity such that populations recover quickly (< 5 years or 2 generations) from decreases in abundance; or species has high dispersal capability such that extirpated populations soon become reestablished through natural recolonization (unaided by humans).


    Environmental Specificity

    ScoreC - Moderate. Generalist. Broad-scale or diverse (general) habitat(s) or other abiotic and/or biotic factors are used or required by the species but some key requirements are scarce in the generalized range of the species within the area of interest.

    CommentModerate Generalist. Generalist in conifer and mixed conifer forests.

    Raw Conservation Status Score

    Score 3.5 + 0.0 (geographic distribution) + 0.0 (environmental specificity) - 0.5 (short-term trend) + 0.0 (threats) = 3
    How Scores are Calculated

General Description
A large (20-cm-long), robust finch with a large thick bill (pale yellow or greenish in spring and summer, whitish in fall and winter), black tail, black wings with white patch on inner wing, and yellow wing linings; adult male has yellow forehead and eyebrow, and dark brown and yellow body; female is grayish-tan, with a thin dark whisker stripe, white-tipped tail, and a conspicuous (in flight) second white patch on the primaries; juvenile has a brown bill, with each sex resembling the adult of the same sex (though juvenile male is significantly duller than adult male); loud call, "clee-ip" or "peeer".

Species Range
Montana Range

Click the legend blocks above to view individual ranges.

Western Hemisphere Range


Summary of Observations Submitted for Montana
Number of Observations: 2982

(Click on the following maps and charts to see full sized version) Map Help and Descriptions
Relative Density


(direct evidence "B")

(indirect evidence "b")

No evidence of Breeding
(transient "t")

(regular observations "W")

(at least one obs. "w")


(Records associated with a range of dates are excluded from time charts)

In Bozeman area, normal vertical movements are August 20 to November 1 and around June 1.

In the Rocky Mountains, common in mixed-conifer and spruce-fir forests; less common in pine-oak, pinon, Cascadian, ponderosa pine and aspen forests. Less closely tied to coniferous tree species than other carduelines. Also uses deciduous species for nesting and food (Gillihan and Byers 2001).

Ecological Systems Associated with this Species
  • Details on Creation and Suggested Uses and Limitations
    How Associations Were Made
    We associated the use and habitat quality (high, medium, or low) of each of the 82 ecological systems mapped in Montana for vertebrate animal species that regularly breed, overwinter, or migrate through the state by:
    1. Using personal observations and reviewing literature that summarize the breeding, overwintering, or migratory habitat requirements of each species (Dobkin 1992, Hart et al. 1998, Hutto and Young 1999, Maxell 2000, Foresman 2001, Adams 2003, and Werner et al. 2004);
    2. Evaluating structural characteristics and distribution of each ecological system relative to the species’ range and habitat requirements;
    3. Examining the observation records for each species in the state-wide point database associated with each ecological system;
    4. Calculating the percentage of observations associated with each ecological system relative to the percent of Montana covered by each ecological system to get a measure of “observations versus availability of habitat”.
    Species that breed in Montana were only evaluated for breeding habitat use, species that only overwinter in Montana were only evaluated for overwintering habitat use, and species that only migrate through Montana were only evaluated for migratory habitat use.  In general, species were associated as using an ecological system if structural characteristics of used habitat documented in the literature were present in the ecological system or large numbers of point observations were associated with the ecological system.  However, species were not associated with an ecological system if there was no support in the literature for use of structural characteristics in an ecological system, even if point observations were associated with that system.  High, medium, and low habitat quality was assigned based on the degree to which the structural characteristics of an ecological system matched the preferred structural habitat characteristics for each species in the literature.  The percentage of observations associated with each ecological system relative to the percent of Montana covered by each ecological system was also used to guide assignments of habitat quality.  If you have any questions or comments on species associations with ecological systems, please contact Bryce Maxell at or (406) 444-3655.

    Suggested Uses and Limitations
    Species associations with ecological systems should be used to generate potential lists of species that may occupy broader landscapes for the purposes of landscape-level planning.  These potential lists of species should not be used in place of documented occurrences of species (this information can be requested at: or systematic surveys for species and evaluations of habitat at a local site level by trained biologists.  Users of this information should be aware that the land cover data used to generate species associations is based on imagery from the late 1990s and early 2000s and was only intended to be used at broader landscape scales.  Land cover mapping accuracy is particularly problematic when the systems occur as small patches or where the land cover types have been altered over the past decade.  Thus, particular caution should be used when using the associations in assessments of smaller areas (e.g., evaluations of public land survey sections).  Finally, although a species may be associated with a particular ecological system within its known geographic range, portions of that ecological system may occur outside of the species’ known geographic range.

    Literature Cited
    • Adams, R.A.  2003.  Bats of the Rocky Mountain West; natural history, ecology, and conservation.  Boulder, CO: University Press of Colorado.  289 p.
    • Dobkin, D. S.  1992.  Neotropical migrant land birds in the Northern Rockies and Great Plains. USDA Forest Service, Northern Region. Publication No. R1-93-34.  Missoula, MT.
    • Foresman, K.R.  2001.  The wild mammals of Montana.  Special Publication No. 12.  Lawrence, KS: The American Society of Mammalogists.  278 p.
    • Hart, M.M., W.A. Williams, P.C. Thornton, K.P. McLaughlin, C.M. Tobalske, B.A. Maxell, D.P. Hendricks, C.R. Peterson, and R.L. Redmond. 1998.  Montana atlas of terrestrial vertebrates.  Montana Cooperative Wildlife Research Unit, University of Montana, Missoula, MT.  1302 p.
    • Hutto, R.L. and J.S. Young.  1999.  Habitat relationships of landbirds in the Northern Region, USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station RMRS-GTR-32.  72 p.
    • Maxell, B.A.  2000.  Management of Montana’s amphibians: a review of factors that may present a risk to population viability and accounts on the identification, distribution, taxonomy, habitat use, natural history, and the status and conservation of individual species.  Report to U.S. Forest Service Region 1.  Missoula, MT: Wildlife Biology Program, University of Montana.  161 p.
    • Werner, J.K., B.A. Maxell, P. Hendricks, and D. Flath.  2004.  Amphibians and reptiles of Montana.  Missoula, MT: Mountain Press Publishing Company. 262 p.

Food Habits
Invertebrates, especially spruce budworm and other larvae; wide variety of small fruits and seeds, especially maples (Gillihan and Byers 2001).

Reproductive Characteristics
Nests primarily in trees but also in shrubs; a spare structure, shaped like flattened saucer. Eggs are subelliptical in shape, light blue to blue-green with brown to purplish markings, smooth and glossy. Clutch size ranges 2 to 5, usually 3 or 4 (Gillihan and Byers 2001). Near Fortine, dependent young seen flying July 26. Partly fledged young seen July 3. Nesting dates probably similar to those for Colorado: early June to late July.

  • Literature Cited AboveLegend:   View WorldCat Record   View Online Publication
    • Gillihan, S.W. and B.B. 2001. Evening grosbeak (Coccothraustes vespertinus). Species Account Number 599. In: A. Poole, ed. Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY.
  • Additional ReferencesLegend:   View WorldCat Record   View Online Publication
    Do you know of a citation we're missing?
    • American Ornithologists' Union. 1998. Check-list of North American birds. 7th edition. American Ornithologists' Union, Washington, D.C. 829 pp.
    • Bekoff, M., A. C. Scott, and D. A. Conner. 1987. Nonrandom nest-site selection in evening grosbeaks. Condor 89:819-829.
    • Clement, P. 1993. Finches and sparrows: an identification guide. Princeton Univ. Press, Princeton. 500 pp.
    • Ehrlich, P., D. Dobkin, and D. Wheye. 1988. The birder’s handbook: a field guide to the natural history of North American birds. Simon and Schuster Inc. New York. 785 pp.
    • Hutto, R. L. and J. S. Young. 1999. Habitat relationships of landbirds in the Northern Region, USDA Forest Service. General Technical Report RMRS-GTR-32. U. S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, and Rocky Mountain Research Station, Ogden, UT. 72 pp.
    • Johnsgard, P. A. 1992. Birds of the Rocky Mountains with particular reference to national parks in the northern Rocky Mountain region. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press. xi + 504 pp.
    • Lenard, S., J. Carlson, J. Ellis, C. Jones, and C. Tilly. 2003. P. D. Skaar's Montana Bird Distribution, 6th Edition. Montana Audubon: Helena, MT, 144 pp.
    • Montana Bird Distribution Committee. 2012. P.D. Skaar's Montana bird distribution. 7th Edition. Montana Audubon, Helena, Montana. 208 pp. + foldout map.
    • Thomas, J. W. (ed). 1979. Wildlife habitats in managed forests: the Blue Mountains of Oregon and Washington. Agriculture Handbook 553, USDA, Forest Service, Wildlife Management Institute, Washington, DC. 512 pp.
    • U.S. Forest Service. 1991. Forest and rangeland birds of the United States: Natural history and habitat use. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service Agricultural Handbook 688. 625 pages.
  • Web Search Engines for Articles on "Evening Grosbeak"
Login Logout
Citation for data on this website:
Evening Grosbeak — Coccothraustes vespertinus.  Montana Field Guide.  Montana Natural Heritage Program and Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.  Retrieved on November 26, 2014, from
There are currently 15 active users in the Montana Field Guide.