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May 14, 2011 / Leslie

Weekend Birding: Rose-breasted Grosbeak

Today is International Migratory Bird Day, a day to celebrate the migration of nearly 350 species of migratory birds who travel from Latin America, Mexico, and the Caribbean to their nesting habitats in North America during April and May. Bird Day events such as bird walks and festivals are held across North America.

Rose-breasted Grosbeak

Last Saturday afternoon two male Rose-breasted Grosbeaks appeared in my apple tree. I ran for the camera as I rarely see them in my backyard and in range for a photo. This is a gorgeous, boldly colored bird with a black head and black upper parts, white underparts and a rosy triangular breast patch. They have a beautiful song, similar to that of the robin.

Rose-breasted Grosbeak

The grosbeak is a perfect example of a migratory bird. They winter far south in the tropics and nest in mid to upper North America. That means these birds flew to my yard from South America or Mexico. They stayed here a few days resting and eating sunflower seeds and suet. By Monday evening they had moved on.

Interesting Facts:Rose-breasted Grosbeak

  • The females are a brown color resembling a large sparrow or finch.
  • The name “grosbeak” is from the French word grosbec and means “large beak.”
  • Unlike most songbird species, the female is known to sing. (The female Cardinal is another exception and also sings.)
  • The male participates in incubation of the eggs, accounting for about 1/3 of the time during the day. (Most males do not sit on eggs.)


I link up my bird photos on Saturday Snapshot hosted by Alyce at At Home With Books. Visit her blog to see more great photos or add your own.


Leave a Comment
  1. Book Dilettante / May 14 2011 1:47 am

    Last week, I saw two grosbeaks at Magee Marsh on Lake Erie. My first sighting of these lovely birds. You got lovely shots of them!


  2. BermudaOnion / May 14 2011 6:39 am

    That bird is stunning with its splash of red! Just gorgeous!


  3. Mary / May 14 2011 6:59 am

    Wonderful photos. Have you ever thought of putting together a digital photo book? I love the colors and the definition in all of yours!


    • Leslie / May 14 2011 12:17 pm

      I’ve thought of doing that. It’s one of my projects to do someday when I have the time.


  4. Marie / May 14 2011 7:19 am

    We have these in our backyard as well. He’s gorgeous. Awesome shots!


  5. cbjames / May 14 2011 8:24 am

    He is a beauty. Here in California I have seen a few colorful songbirds, but they are few and far between. You’d think with all our sunshine we’d have more.


    • Leslie / May 14 2011 12:24 pm

      The west coast has a lot different birds from what we see here in the midwest. The Rose-breasted Grosbeak doesn’t range that far west. You have the Black-headed Grosbeak which I never seen. Next time I get out west with my camera I will probably go crazy taking bird pictures.


  6. Rebecca Rasmussen / May 14 2011 9:01 am

    We just saw a few grosbeaks outside our window in Wisconsin this morning! XOXO


  7. Col (Col Reads) / May 14 2011 9:12 am

    Wow, those are amazing shots. I haven’t seen this around our feeder in PA — don’t know if they come this far east. I’ll be on the lookout though.


    • Leslie / May 14 2011 12:26 pm

      Yes, they are all the way to the east coast. They enjoy sunflower seeds and suet.


  8. TheBookGirl / May 14 2011 9:25 am

    Beautiful photos 🙂

    I’m curious if in the top one, the bird is puffing out his chest, or if he was just much bigger than the second one?


    • Leslie / May 14 2011 12:28 pm

      The birds were the same size. He was just fluffing up his feathers when I took that shot in tree. They do that when they’re cold and I took the tree pictures earlier in the day so maybe that was why.


  9. laurelrainsnow / May 14 2011 10:41 am

    Gorgeous birds, and what clarity you captured in these photos. Thanks for sharing…and for visiting my blog.


  10. Diane@BibliophileBytheSea / May 14 2011 11:40 am

    He’s a beauty. Love the pictures you take.


  11. Sherrie / May 14 2011 12:05 pm

    Beautiful birds! The splash of red really shows them off. Have a great day!

    Just Books


  12. Angie S. / May 14 2011 12:09 pm

    The grosbeaks have just come back to our feeder. They are one of my favorite birds to watch (aside from the indigo buntings)


    • Leslie / May 14 2011 5:01 pm

      Indigo Buntings are so pretty. We have them here but I have yet to find one in my yard and still haven’t been able to get a photo of one.


  13. Suko / May 14 2011 12:16 pm

    Beautiful photos, Leslie, as usual! Very nice, informative post.


  14. Alyce / May 14 2011 12:59 pm

    Fascinating bird facts and great photos!


  15. mostraum / May 14 2011 2:51 pm

    Beautiful photos of some fascinating birds. Thanks for the extra info too.


  16. Kay / May 14 2011 5:16 pm

    Leslie, your photos are just breathtaking. Truly. A highlight of the week for me.


  17. Faith / May 14 2011 6:03 pm

    Absolutely gorgeous!!

    Mine is here in case you want to check it out.


  18. Leeswammes / May 15 2011 3:10 am

    A beautiful bird! I’ve never heard of grosbeaks and I don’t think we get them here in the Netherlands. They’re beauties though!


  19. Nikki-ann / May 15 2011 10:46 am

    Wonderful photos! I love that red stripe down its front, very distinctive.


  20. Karis (YA Litwit) / May 23 2011 4:56 pm

    Lovely shots! They only pass through here (GA) during migration, but I have had a few spend a day or two at my feeders.


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