Black-faced grosbeak

Caryothraustes poliogaster

The black-faced grosbeak is a large seed-eating bird in the cardinal family , which is a resident breeding species from south-eastern Mexico to eastern Panama.

The adult black-faced grosbeak is 16.5 cm long, weighs 36 g, and has a heavy, mainly black, bill. It has a black face, yellow head, neck and breast, and olive back, wings and tail. The rump and belly are grey. Immatures are duller and have duskier face markings. The vocalisations include sharp ''chip'' or ''tweet'' calls, buzzes and whistles, and the song is a musical whistled ''cher chi weet, cher chir weet, cher chi chuweet''.

The black-faced grosbeak forages in shrubs or trees for beetles, caterpillars and other insects, and also eats fruit such as those of gumbo-limbo , seeds, and nectar taken from flowers or epiphyte bracts. It forms noisy flocks of up to 20 birds, and is often in mixed-species feeding flocks with honeycreepers and other tanagers as well as New World warblers. It generally tries to avoid human-altered habitat though it can be sometimes found in heavily degraded former subtropical or tropical forests.

This species breeds in the Caribbean lowlands and foothills from sea level to about 1000 m altitude, and is found in the canopy and middle levels of dense wet forests, tall second growth, and semi-open habitats such as woodland edge and clearings. The nest is a bowl constructed from bromeliad leaves and other epiphytes 3–6 m high in a small tree or palm. The female lays three brown-spotted grey-white eggs between April and June.

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