Black-thighed Grosbeaks

The Black-thighed Grosbeaks (Pheucticus tibialis) are members of the Cardinal family found in Central America. This race is mostly considered a full species; however, some consider the Black-thighed Grosbeak to be a subspecies of the Yellow Grosbeak or Mexican Yellow Grosbeak (Pheucticus chrysopeplus).

Distribution / Habitat

The Black-thighed Grosbeaks occur naturally in the highlands of Costa Rica and western Panama, where they inhabit the humid montane forests of the Pacific slope – from an elevation of 3,300 feet or 1,000 meters – or the Caribbean slope – from 5,000 feet or 1,500 meters up to about 8,500 feet or 2,600 meters.

Their preferred habitats are humid montane forests, edges of forests and semi-open habitats (such as pasture with some trees).

These birds are usually seen alone or in pairs.



Average Length: 7.9 inches or 20 cm

Average Weight: 2.5 oz or 70 grams

Plumage Details

The male can be identified by his yellow head, rump and underparts. He has an olive-edged black back. The wings, tail and thighs are black. There is a white patch on the wings.

The female is generally paler; she has more olive on the back. The white wing patch is smaller.

Immature birds have a duller, more olive-tinged plumage, with some streaking and mottling.

Other Physical Details

Large grey bill; darker upper bill; horn-colored lower bill.

Darkish legs and feet.

Similar Birds

Yellow Grosbeak (Pheucticus chrysopeplus) found in western Mexico and Guatemala

Golden-bellied Grosbeak (Pheucticus chrysogaster) found in the Andes of South America

These three species are sometimes considered one and the same.

Diet / Feeding

The Black-thighed Grosbeak feed on seeds, insects, fruits and berries. They typically forage high in trees or in shrubs.

Breeding / Nesting

Most nesting occurs between March and May. Their cup nests are constructed out of twigs and placed about 3 – 10 feet (~ 1 – 3 meters) up in small trees or amongst vines.

The average clutch consists of two brown-spotted pale blue eggs.

Calls / Vocalizations / Sounds

Its call is described as a sharp pink.

Its song consists of a musical stream of warbles, whistles, trills and slurs.

Alternate (Global) Names

Chinese: ?????? … Czech: dlaskovec ?ernonohý, Kardinál cernonohý … Danish: Sortlåret Kernebider … Dutch: Zwartdijkardinaal … Finnish: Kultakardinaali … French: Cardinal à cuisses noires, Casse-graine à cuisses noires, Grosbec à cuisses noires, Gros-bec à cuisses noires … German: Schwarzschenkel-Kernkancker … Italian: Beccogrosso dai calzoni neri, Beccogrosso zampenere … Japanese: kuromomoougonikaru … Norwegian: Svartleggtykknebb … Polish: luszcz czarnogoleniowy … Slovak: glezgovec hájový … Spanish: Picogrueso Muslinegro, Picogrueso vientriamarillo, Piquigrueso de Piernas Negras … Swedish: Svartbent kardinal

Photo of author

Team Beauty of Birds's team of experts includes veterinarians, biologists, environmentalists and active bird watchers. All put together, we have over half a century of experience in the birding space.

You can meet our team here.