The Encyclopedia Americana (1920)/Grosbeak

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GROSBEAK, grōs'bēk, any of various birds whose beaks seem disproportionately large. They are mainly finches such as the hawfinch and bullfinch in Europe, and their relatives in the Orient. Bird-dealers call “grosbeaks” a great number of African, Asiatic and American line cage-birds, some of which are weaver-birds, or tanagers, etc. The term is more exactly given to certain North American fringilline birds with big swollen bills, such as the cardinal (q.v.), the evening grosbeak (q.v.), and the pine, blue, rose-breasted and black-headed grosbeaks. The pine grosbeak (Pinicola enucleator) is a greenish yellow finch which dwells exclusively in the coniferous forests of northern Europe and America, and is only seen in the United States when forced southward by hard winters; it feeds on the seeds of the pine, spruce, etc, wrenching open the cones with its powerful beak. The blue grosbeak (Guiraca cærulea) is a large, richly blue southern and western bird, nearly related to the indigo-finch, which makes its nest in a bush, and lays pale blue eggs, wholly unmarked. The rose-breasted and black-headed grosbeaks represent the genus Zamelodia, the former (Z. ludoviciana) in the Eastern States, and the latter (Z. melanocephala) in the Rocky Mountain region. Both are birds of brushy places, making large, rude nests in bushes and laying greenish, heavily marked eggs; and in the breeding-season both are among the loudest and most brilliant of American song-birds. As in nearly all the grosbeaks the females of these species are inconspicuous in brown tints, while the males are dressed in gay colors. The male rose-breasted has the head, neck and upper parts mostly black, with the rump, wings, tail and abdomen, white; while the breast and lining of the bend of the wing are exquisite rose-red, which the bird is fond of displaying. The male blackhead has a wholly black head and upper parts, off by a collar and other marks of dull orange, which color also suffuses the whole lower parts.