International Road to Recovery Evening Grosbeak Project

International Road to Recovery Evening Grosbeak Project

FiRN is dedicated to the study and conservation of finches and their habitats globally. The Evening Grosbeak has declined 92% since 1970 and is listed as a species of conservation concern!

For a Road to Recovery Webinar that David and I gave in December giving an overview of the project click here:

With a 92% decline since 1970, evening grosbeak (Coccothraustes vespertinus) was cited as the steepest declining landbird in the continental United States and Canada in the Partners in Flight 2016 Landbird Conservation Plan. Causes for the decline are not fully understood, but may be a result of several factors including spruce budworm (Choristoneura spp.) population cycles, forest alteration and loss, collision and disease mortalities, and climate change factors. Following several conservation listings, evening grosbeak has garnered conservation attention from the recently formed Road to Recovery (R2R) Initiative as it was called out as one of 91 bird Species on the Brink of Endangerment.

Evening Grosbeak© Jay McGowan

From February 2022 through May 2023, members of our team (Finch Research Network (FiRN) Pennsylvania Natural Heritage Program at the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy (WPC) and Powdermill Avian Research Center at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History (CMNH)) ventured into the field at Sax Zim Bog in Minnesota, Aroostock County northern Maine, to the Allegheny National Forest in PA and the Adirondacks of upstate NY to study Evening Grosbeaks, and we’ve color-banding 272 birds and have deployed 85 nanotags and 46 satellite tags. From the 46 satellite tags we’ve already received over 10,000 positions transmitted with some of the birds tagged moving to Quebec, Ontario, New Brunswick and Manitoba for the breeding season. As fundraising continues we hope to start banding and tagging in the Western U.S. and Canada in the next few years.

All this work is part of an International Road to Recovery Working Group for the Evening Grosbeak, a species recognized of high urgency.

Donate click here: Donate – FINCH RESEARCH NETWORK (

Purpose is to look at reasons for the decline, and to provide a stable, long-term home for Evening Grosbeak research over a broad front: population declines, field observations, recordings, assortative mating and call type delineation by sound, range and DNA. Provide information to the scientific community on the validity of call types and potential full-species separations for flight call types. One purpose would be to serve as arbiters of flight call determination via audiospectrographic analysis for this North American species.

Object of study: Look into population declines, assortative mating, morphometrics, flight call variations and genetics for all call types, but especially with Type 1 which overlaps with all the other call types to some degree.

Submit your sightings to eBird (including type and audio) to help answer some nagging questions:

  • What is causing the declines?
  • To what extent will Type 1’s irrupt from year to year? Distance? Quantity?
  • Are the types geographically isolated during the breeding season?
  • Do they overlap in parts of their range but only breed with the same type?
  • What other, more complex things may be happening on the breeding and wintering grounds? 
  • Do Types form mixed flocks during the winter

Also see: Tracking Irruptive Movements of Wintering Evening Grosbeaks (Coccothraustes vespertinus) from Western Pennsylvania

Wintering Evening Grosbeak Movements

The Evening Grosbeak Road to Recovery Project is a collaboration of the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy’s Natural Heritage Program (PNHP), the Carnegie Museum of Natural History’s Powdermill Avian Research Center and The Finchmasters – Finch Research Network.

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The Finch Research Network (FiRN) is a nonprofit, and has been granted 501c3 status. FiRN is committed to researching and protecting finch species like the Evening Grosbeak and more. The Evening Grosbeak has declined 92% since 1970. We are fundraising around an Evening Grosbeak Road to Recovery project in addition to a student research project, so please think about supporting our efforts and making a small donation at the donate link below.


Go to species account: LINK

If you would like to know more about or want to contribute to this project, please get in touch with Matt and see Western Pennsylvania Conservancy Road to Recovery link.

The Poster we presented at the Journal of Field Ornithology – Association of Field Ornithologist Conference in Plymouth, Massachusetts Oct 2022.