Female black headed grosbeaks (Pheucticus melanocephalus) are much duller than their striking male counterparts. Where the male black headed grosbeak is black, the female is brown. She has white eyebrows (supercilium) and a median crown stripe. The underparts are buff and finely streaked. Although the female black headed grosbeak may not be colored as brilliantly as the male she is still quite attractive in a more subtle fashion.
Juvenile black headed grosbeaks resemble females of the species. It takes two years before the male black headed grosbeak displays full adult breeding plumage. Until the adult plumage is fully developed the male grosbeak will show characteristics of both male and female plumage. Interestingly, only the first year males that most closely resemble older males with fully developed breeding plumage are able to claim and defend a territory and breed.
Both sexes of black headed grosbeaks sit on the eggs, feed and care for the young and defend the nest and territory.
This female black headed grosbeak was also photographed along Lower Hat Creek (Shasta County CA) last spring.