Evening Grosbeak Foraging Project

Evening Grosbeak Foraging Project

Monitor Evening Grosbeak Foraging in iNaturalist: Help track the feeding ecology of Evening Grosbeaks across North America!

By Caleb Centanni and Matthew Young

Between fall and spring, those of us who live in North America’s temperate regions may hear the ringing chatter of a flock of Evening Grosbeaks, one of our continent’s most striking finches. But these smartly-patterned visitors to neighborhoods, feeders, and northern and montane forests are much rarer than they once were. Evening Grosbeaks have declined a staggering 92 percent since 1970. They are now listed as a Road to Recovery (R2R) species, but the reasons for their declines remain largely unclear. If we want to ensure that this charismatic finch continues to grace our backyards and woodlands going forward, we need to act quickly to better understand the ecological relationships that support them. Perhaps the most important aspect of this is understanding what food sources Evening Grosbeaks rely on in different locations, years, and seasons.

Like Red Crossbills, Evening Grosbeaks have several unique call types, or ecotypes, that occur in different regions and likely have different foraging preferences. We don’t know much about these distinct populations yet, but understanding them may be key to conserving the species across its broad geographic range. These types can be identified with an audio recording. Sadly, Evening Grosbeaks are little known across much of their range and may be disappearing before scientists can learn how to conserve them. The good news is that you can help understand and conserve Evening Grosbeaks by contributing to our project, “Evening Grosbeak Foraging”, on iNaturalist. All you need is your smartphone and an iNaturalist account!

Any time you observe Evening Grosbeaks foraging directly on a food item, make a recording of the Grosbeaks and upload an image of the foraging Grosbeaks or their food item into iNaturalist. Since this project is focused on ecotypes, we are only asking for observations where an audio recording was obtained, for now. We are also only looking for observations where definite foraging was observed (i.e. the birds were visibly opening their bills and consuming food items). Even if you miss photographing the Grosbeaks, we can accept an observation of their foraging item along with a recording, so getting a recording of foraging birds is the first priority in contributing to the project. Here are the basic steps to add your observations:

1. Make an audio recording of Evening Grosbeaks that you can see foraging on any food item. Eating at feeders is included. Upload this recording into eBird, XenoCanto, or iNaturalist.

2. Make an iNaturalist account and join the project “Evening Grosbeak Foraging”. You can do this by visiting the project page and clicking the small link that says “Join this project” in the upper right hand corner above the blue “Add observations” button. Here is the link for this project:

3. Make an iNaturalist observation and add either an image of a foraging Evening Grosbeak or an image of an organism (plant, animal, fungi) that it was foraging on. Submit your observation into the database.

4. Go to your observation on the iNaturalist website. Click in the search bar in the lower right that says “Projects” and select “Evening Grosbeak Foraging”. Then fill out the observation fields. In the “Finch Forage Item” field, name what the Grosbeaks were eating (e.g. maple seeds). In the “recording” observation field, copy and paste a link to your recording (in Macaulay Library, Xeno Canto, etc.) of the exact flock of Grosbeaks that was foraging in this observation. Click “Add” next to each foraging field, then click “Add to Project”. 

If you have a good photo of a cone crop  or even a food crop that other finches like to eat, please add any of those sightings to the iNaturalist Winter Finch Food Assessment Project/Become a Finch Forecaster here:

We greatly appreciate you taking the time to contribute to this project! Your observations will help scientists work quickly to understand Evening Grosbeaks in time to take action to conserve them. Evening Grosbeaks often visit bird feeders, and even observations from your own backyard will help us learn about them. If you have any questions about this project, how to record Grosbeaks, or other ways you can help, please contact me at, Matt Young at or check for info on the FiRN home page. We can’t wait to see what you discover and to apply your knowledge to recovering this charismatic species!

Cover Photo Matthew Young

We are a co-lead on the Evening Grosbeak Road to Recovery Project, and have funded upwards of $10,000 to go towards research, conservation and education for finch projects in the last year plus. FiRN is committed to researching and protecting these birds and other threatened finch species like the Evening Grosbeak, Rosy-finches, and Hawaii’s finches the honeycreepers, and if you have been enjoying all the blogs and identifying of Evening Grosbeak and Red Crossbill call types (upwards of 15,000 recordings listened to), redpoll subspecies and green morph Pine Siskins FiRN has helped with over the years, please think about supporting our efforts and making a small donation at the donate link below.


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