International Road to Recovery Evening Grosbeak Project

International Road to Recovery Evening Grosbeak Project

Evening Grosbeak© Jay McGowan

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!

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.

From February through April 2022, 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 in Minnesota and northern Maine to study Evening Grosbeaks, color-banding 62 birds and deploying 13 satellite tags and 30 nanotags. From the 13 satellite tags we’ve already received over 700 positions transmitted, and a couple birds have moved to New Brunswick in preparation for the upcoming breeding season.

All this work is part of the Road to Recovery for the Evening Grosbeak, a species that is rapidly declining.

Donate click here: Donate – FINCH RESEARCH NETWORK (finchnetwork.org)

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:

  • 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

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