MDI Birds
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    Evening Grosbeak / Coccothraustes vespertinus

    : Bred annually in small numbers late 1970s into the early 1990s but none since. early Jun-late Aug, usually single males

    : and mid Oct-late May, often appearing briefly at bird feeders.

    Miscellany: Evening Grosbeaks have an interesting history. Until the mid 19th century, they were largely limited to the Rocky Mountains and Western Canada. They were unrecorded in Maine and New England generally until late in the century. From the 1920s until the mid 1980s Evening Grosbeaks were a regular though highly variable feature of our winters. Number declined into the mid 1990s and since then Evening Grosbeaks have been scarce or absent. Between 1954 and 1995, Evening Grosbeaks were detected on all but two of the MDI Christmas Bird Counts with count totals often in the hundreds. Since that time, they've been recorded only three times. The Schoodic CBC shows a similar pattern. During the period of peak movements, some birds remained east to breed.

    The eastern expansion was widely considered to be the result of the planting of Box Elders throughout the Great Plains as windbreaks and in the Northeast as ornamentals. Box Elders hold their seed all winter providing food. Birdfeeders with sunflower seeds, perhaps especially in the populated northeast, may have been important as well. Some think that spruce budworm outbreaks especially in the last half of the 20th century provided abundant summer food and supported those individuals that remained to breed. That said, it isn't clear why the species has declined so dramatically since the mid 1980s.

    Last Updated: October 7th, 2022