Saturday, October 4, 2014

Black-headed Grosbeak

Roughlock Falls in the South Dakota Black Hills is an easy place to find Dippers. We spied this semi-aquatic land-bird, but they did not cooperate for photographs. We did find a pair of Black-headed Grosbeaks feeding among the cars in a parking lot—presumably searching for car-killed arthropods.
Black-headed Grosbeaks are closely related to Rose-breasted Grosbeaks. The two species hybridize in the Great Plains where their ranges overlap. Some ornithologists consider them to be well-marked races of the same species. Alan Phillips named the resultant species, the Common Grosbeak. This hybridization, however, occurs in areas of low density and patchy habitat. It is not as frequent as where Yellow and Red-shafted flickers or Indigo and Lazuli buntings meet (Ortega and Hill 2010).

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