Breeding Bird Atlas 2 Additional Accounts


Blue Grosbeak

Passerina caerula

The Blue Grosbeak has apparently been on the verge of breeding in Massachusetts for two centuries. William Peabody wrote that in 1839 it “is not at present known as one of our birds; but a gentleman, whose authority is unquestionable, is confident that he has seen more than one in the State. It will, without much doubt, be numbered with our occasional visiters [sic], by future observers” (Peabody 1839). Gordon Plummer of Brookline shot one in 1880 (Howe & Allen 1901), and reports from Grand Manan Island in Canada and Calais, Maine, suggested more proof of possible northward expansion (Forbush 1929). During 1973, the year before the first season of Atlas surveys, Blue Grosbeaks had a banner year in Massachusetts. Dozens were found during spring migration, and the species was beginning to establish itself as a breeding species in the southern part of nearby New York State (Veit & Petersen 1973). Even so, none remained in the Bay State to breed, and no evidence of breeding expansion into Massachusetts was recorded during the Atlas 1 surveys. During Atlas 2 there were consistent sightings at the Massachusetts Military Reservation during 2009 of males present, but no further evidence of breeding was found. The Blue Grosbeak remains a rare species in Massachusetts and is still not Confirmed as a breeder.