Wildlife

Saved another one! Rose breasted Grosbeak

Hit by automobile! A little rest, water and some bugs for lunch, a quick exam and overnight stay. Now he’s back on his way!

Bursting with black, white, and rose-red, male Rose-breasted Grosbeaks are like an exclamation mark at your bird feeder or in your binoculars. Females and immatures are streaked brown and white with a bold face pattern and enormous bill. Look for these birds in forest edges and woodlands. Listen, too, for their distinctive voices. They sound like American Robins, but listen for an extra sweetness, as if the bird had operatic training; they also make a sharp chink like the squeak of a sneaker.

Cool Facts
In parts of the Great Plains, the Rose-breasted Grosbeak hybridizes with its close relative, the Black-headed Grosbeak. Hybrids can look like either parent species or be intermediate in pattern, with various combinations of pink, orange, and black. The two grosbeak species are most likely to hybridize in areas where both species are scarce.
Researchers used mounted specimens of male Rose-breasted Grosbeaks to explore aggressive behavior. Live male birds attacked the white rump and flanks of the models, suggesting that the white markings are more important than the red chest in stimulating aggression.
Rose-breasted Grosbeaks build such flimsy nests that eggs are often visible from below through the nest bottom.
The male Rose-breasted Grosbeak takes a turn incubating the eggs for several hours during the day, while the female incubates the rest of the day and all night long. Both sexes sing quietly to each other when they exchange places. The male sometimes sings his normal song at full volume from inside the nest.
This bird’s sweet, robin-like song has inspired many a bird watcher to pay tribute to it. A couple of early twentieth-century naturalists said it is “so entrancingly beautiful that words cannot describe it,” and “it has been compared with the finest efforts of the robin and… the Scarlet Tanager, but it is far superior to either.” Present-day bird watchers have variously suggested it sings like a robin that has had opera training, is drunk, refined, in a hurry, or unusually happy.
Two males share the record for the oldest Rose-breasted Grosbeak. Both birds were at least 12 years, 11 months old when recaptured and released during bnding operations. One was banded in 1972 in Vermont and found in the same state in 1984. The other was banded in Maryland in 1976, and recaptured in 1987 in the same state.



Pictures by Jeff

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