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This female evening grosbeak (Hesperiphona vespertina) is considered to be a "typical" grosbeak.

Grosbeak /ˈɡrsbk/ is a form taxon containing various species of seed-eating passerine birds with large beaks. Although they all belong to the superfamily Passeroidea, these birds are not part of a natural group but rather a polyphyletic assemblage of distantly related songbirds.[1] Some are cardueline finches in the family Fringillidae, while others are cardinals in the family Cardinalidae; one is a member of the weaver family Ploceidae.[2] The word "grosbeak", first applied in the late 1670s, is a partial translation of the French grosbec, where gros means "large" and bec means "beak".[3]

The following is a list of grosbeak species, arranged in groups of closely related genera. These genera are more closely related to smaller-billed birds than to other grosbeaks. Exceptions are the three genera of "typical grosbeak finches", which form a group of closest living relatives and might thus be considered the "true" grosbeaks.

Grosbeak finches[edit]

Pine grosbeak, Pinicola enucleator

The finch family (Fringillidae) contains 13 living species named "grosbeak", which are all part of the large subfamily Carduelinae:

Typical grosbeak finches

grosbeak bullfinch

grosbeak goldfinches

Genus Crithagra Two species in the genus Crithagra are named "grosbeak-canaries" and one is called a grosbeak:

In addition, there are two extinct Fringillidae "grosbeaks":

  • The Bonin grosbeak (Chaunoproctus ferreorostris), found only on the Ogasawara Islands, which was last recorded in 1832. Its relationships are obscure, but it was probably another member of the cardueline finches.
  • The Kona grosbeak or grosbeak finch (Chloridops kona), last recorded in 1896. It was a Hawaiian honeycreeper, subfamily Drepanidinae.


The cardinal family (Cardinalidae) of the Americas contains the following 17 "grosbeaks":

Black-headed grosbeak (Pheucticus melanocephalus)

Typical cardinal-grosbeaks

Masked cardinal-grosbeaks

Ultramarine grosbeak (Cyanocompsa brissonii)

Blue cardinal-grosbeaks

Grosbeak tanagers[edit]

Slate-coloured grosbeak (Saltator grossus)

Three additional species of "grosbeaks" have long been placed in the Cardinalidae, but actually seem to be closer to the tanager family (Thraupidae):

Thick-billed weaver[edit]

Finally, the weaver family (Ploceidae) contains a species called the thick-billed weaver (Amblyospiza albifrons).


  1. ^ Campbell & Lack (1985), p. 256.
  2. ^ Campbell & Lack (1995), p. 79.
  3. ^ "Grosbeak". Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Retrieved 30 June 2012.

Cited texts[edit]

  • Campbell, Bruce; Lack, Elizabeth, eds. (1985). A Dictionary of Birds. Calton, UK: T & A D Poyser. ISBN 978-0-85661-039-4.