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Long Live the Evening Grosbeak!

2012BOY-badge1bThis month concludes the very impressive reign of the Evening Grosbeak as the 2012 ABA Bird of the Year. Could we have chosen a better year to highlight this amazing bird?! We are getting reports from folks seeing Evening Grosbeaks in places they've not been seen in thirty years. One might imagine that Jeffrey & Liz Gordon have been secretly raising thousands of Evening Grosbeaks behind the ABA office in Colorado Springs and they've been generously distributing them about the country during their travels – just like that jolly elf that comes around this time of year spreading joy. But the reality surrounding this mysterious bird irruption is all the more amazing!

eBird sightings from Aug-Dec 2011 (above)
eBird sightings from Aug-Dec 5th 2012 (below)

EVGR - eBird sightings 2012
In this month's issue of Birding, UC-Davis Ph.D. candidate Aaron Haiman shares his personal experiences studying Evening Grosbeaks. He presents a lesson on sympatric and allopatric speciation that I found very enlightening. Then leads into a discussion of his work identifying the three to five variants or types of Evening Grosbeaks in North America by flight call and their related geographies. It's a fascinating read and we hope you'll want to comment about it here. Aaron's research continues and we as capable birders and citizen scientists can help! Report your Evening Grosbeak sightings to eBird. Take photos. Record their calls if you can. Then contact Aaron directly by email or via his blog.

So, while the Evening Grosbeak's reign may end with the year, we are still in the midst of an amazing EVGR movement worth watching and celebrating.

Female Evening Grosbeak by Ryan O'Donnell of Logan, Utah
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Robert Mortensen

Robert Mortensen

Robert is most widely known as the host of, a multi-author blog sharing enthusiasm for birds and birding. He is also the ABA's Bird of the Year program coordinator. Robert began birding in the summer of 2004 when his father-in-law handed him a pair of binoculars to go on a Sunday afternoon walk at Deer Flat Wildlife Refuge in Idaho. Birding was an instant addiction. Married to Jessica since 1999, they have four children that keep them hopping. They live in Bountiful, Utah adjacent to spectacular birding at parks and refuges on the eastern shore of the Great Salt Lake. Robert earned his degree in Construction Management from Brigham Young University and somehow fits his construction career around his birding. He is a "well-rounded nerd" who enjoys adventures with his family, serving in his church and Boy Scouts of America, family history, music, and an avid college football fan. Robert plays clarinet and saxophone and enjoys singing too. For question about the Bird of the Year program, you can reach Robert at [email protected]
Robert Mortensen

Latest posts by Robert Mortensen (see all)

  • Here in Wisconsin, the evening grosbeak reports seem to have dried up in the last few weeks, with few reports since mid-November. Will have to see if they start showing up again or not, though they are presumably still present in northern Wisconsin.

  • Terry Bronson

    I’m a bit confused. The American Kestrel’s Bird-of-the-Year reign was from March 2011 through February 2012. The Evergreen Grosbeak was not announced as the bird-of-the-year until this last March, I believe, so it’s been only 9 months. Are you switching to a calendar year period? If so, that would mean the new bird would be announced in January, right?

  • Terry, you’ve busted me! Yes, we are trying to match the Bird of the Year program to the calendar year. Unfortunately, we are short-changing this year’s bird in order to do that. This calendar change certainly won’t keep us from perpetually celebrating the Evening Grosbeak and the American Kestrel for that matter.

    We’re very excited about the 2013 Bird of the Year and are thrilled with the artist we’ve been fortunate enough to engage for the January cover of Birding. It’s all top-secret and classified information at this point. The ABA black-ops team has been dispatched to “eliminate” certain sources attempting to leak Bird of the Year information. The ABA backroom web-lackeys have been battling a full-on hacking assault in order to keep things hush-hush. 😉

    Stay tuned!

  • Thanks for the comment. It prompted me to look at December 2012 eBird data and map. There have been fewer EVGR sightings in December than November, and the locations have contracted a bit. Interesting stuff to follow!

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