Good backyard visitors so far this spring

Photo by Chris Bosak A male rose-breasted grosbeak visits a feeder in Danbury, Conn., during the spring of 2018.

Photo by Chris Bosak A male rose-breasted grosbeak visits a feeder in Danbury, Conn., during the spring of 2018.

We still have a few weeks left of peak spring migration, so this list is not inclusive (I hope not anyway), but the feeder has been active recently with the following birds: rose-breasted grosbeak (male and female); chipping sparrow; goldfinch; gray catbird; blue jay; cardinal (male and female); indigo bunting (first spring male); red-bellied woodpecker; white-breasted nuthatch; tufted titmouse; black-capped chickadee; downy woodpecker; hairy woodpecker; mourning dove; house finch; ruby-throated¬†hummingbird (male and female); wild turkey; and probably one or two more that aren’t coming to mind at the moment. I bought a new oriole feeder, but no luck yet with that one. What’s been visiting your feeders? Feel free to comment with your list.

Photo by Chris Bosak  A female rose-breasted grosbeak visits a feeder in Danbury, Conn., during the spring of 2018.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A female rose-breasted grosbeak visits a feeder in Danbury, Conn., during the spring of 2018.

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Extra rose-breasted grosbeak shot

Photo by Chris Bosak  A rose-breasted grosbeak perches in a tree at Merganser Lake in Connecticut, spring 2017.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A rose-breasted grosbeak perches in a tree at Merganser Lake in Connecticut, spring 2017.

Here’s an extra shot of the male rose-breasted grosbeak I saw at the feeder last month. This was the perch he took before flying over to the feeder to join a female rose-breasted grosbeak that was already on the feeder.

I’ve been meaning to get this photo up on this site for a few weeks. Who’s going to complain about extra rose-breasted grosbeak photos?

Good spring for rose-breasted grosbeaks

Photo by Chris Bosak A female rose-breasted grosbeak eat seeds at a platform feeder at Merganser Lake in Danbury, Conn., in spring 2017.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A female rose-breasted grosbeak eat seeds at a platform feeder at Merganser Lake in Danbury, Conn., in spring 2017.

I didn’t see my first one until May 17, but since then I’ve seen a good number of rose-breasted grosbeaks — always a welcomed sighting in the spring. The male is the flashy bird with black-and-white plumage and signature upside-down bright red triangle on his chest. The female is more muted in color, but still a handsome bird to see at the feeder. They both have large bills (they aren’t called grosbeaks for nothing) and easily crack the sunflower seeds offered at feeders.

I’ve also seen them at suet feeders, so those of us who feed birds into the summer (or year-round) can attract them with a variety of foods. Many people stop feeding birds in the spring. I don’t blame those who have bears to worry about, but those who stop feeding birds once the winter ends miss out on birds such as rose-breasted grosbeaks.

Above is a shot of the female at the feeder. Check out the sizable bill on her. Below is the male and female. Not a great shot, I know, but interesting to see them together. Another female was at the feeder seconds before this shot, but the female shown chased her away.

Photo by Chris Bosak A male and female rose-breasted grosbeak eat seeds at a platform feeder at Merganser Lake in Danbury, Conn., in spring 2017.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A male and female rose-breasted grosbeak eat seeds at a platform feeder at Merganser Lake in Danbury, Conn., in spring 2017.

And the answer is …

Thanks for playing along with my latest birding quiz posted yesterday.

Here’s the answer … it’s a

IMG_8845

female Rose-breasted Grosbeak.

I told you it looked nothing like its male counterpart (in color anyway).

I also suggested you look at the “bulky bill,” or in this case its “grosbeak.”

Many field guides show only the male in breeding plumage, therefore making the identification of females or nonbreeding birds nearly impossible. Get a good field guide that shows all the various plumages of birds.

Below is the male Rose-breasted Grosbeak striking a similar pose. Quite a difference, huh. Good example of sexual dimorphism (when males and female have different physical characteristics.)

Photo by Chris Bosak A Rose-breasted Grosbeak visits a homemade platform feeder in Danbury, Conn., on May 6, 2016.

Photo by Chris Bosak A Rose-breasted Grosbeak visits a homemade platform feeder in Danbury, Conn., on May 6, 2016.

 

More photos of the Rose-breasted Grosbeak

Photo by Chris Bosak A Rose-breasted Grosbeak visits a feeder in Danbury, Conn., May 2016.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Rose-breasted Grosbeak visits a feeder in Danbury, Conn., May 2016.

You didn’t think a Rose-breasted Grosbeak would visit my yard and I’d post only a measly¬†two photos, did you? Of course not. So here are several more photos. This guy hung around for about three days and then presumably headed north. Enjoy and good luck for the rest of this spring migration.

Let me know what you’re seeing out.

Photo by Chris Bosak A Rose-breasted Grosbeak visits a feeder in Danbury, Conn., May 2016.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Rose-breasted Grosbeak visits a feeder in Danbury, Conn., May 2016.

Photo by Chris Bosak A Rose-breasted Grosbeak visits a feeder in Danbury, Conn., May 2016.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Rose-breasted Grosbeak visits a feeder in Danbury, Conn., May 2016.

Photo by Chris Bosak A Rose-breasted Grosbeak visits a feeder in Danbury, Conn., May 2016.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Rose-breasted Grosbeak visits a feeder in Danbury, Conn., May 2016.

Photo by Chris Bosak A Rose-breasted Grosbeak visits a feeder in Danbury, Conn., May 2016.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Rose-breasted Grosbeak visits a feeder in Danbury, Conn., May 2016.

What a visitor: Rose-breasted Grosbeak

Photo by Chris Bosak A Rose-breasted Grosbeak visits a homemade platform feeder in Danbury, Conn., on May 6, 2016.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Rose-breasted Grosbeak visits a homemade platform feeder in Danbury, Conn., on May 5, 2016.

I had a feeling one would show up. And I had a feeling it would just love a homemade platform feeder from which to eat during its migration. Boy, when you’re right, you’re right. Usually when I wish for a specific scenario it never happens. This time, Bingo!

Sure enough, this morning (May 5) I was awakened by a small commotion at my window feeder. It was a male Rose-breasted Grosbeak trying to land on the narrow perch. Even without my glasses on I could tell what it was. How do you mistake a bird like that? It eventually figured out how to land on the small window feeder. I hoped he would get tired of the narrow perch and eventually find his way into the backyard where the real feeding station is. I made sure the homemade platform feeder had plenty of seeds.

Sure enough (again), about 11 o’clock there he was. Standing on the platform feeder eating seeds. Grosbeaks are like finches or cardinals in their eating habits in that they will perch and stay there to eat seed after seed. That is unlike birds such as chickadees, nuthatches and titmice, which grabs seeds and go. So with the grosbeak sitting there chowing down, it presented a nice, long photo opportunity.

I’ll write more about it in a later post, but for now, I wanted to get these photos out there.

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Here’s one more shot, for now:

Photo by Chris Bosak A Rose-breasted Grosbeak visits a homemade platform feeder in Danbury, Conn., on May 6, 2016.

Photo by Chris Bosak A Rose-breasted Grosbeak visits a homemade platform feeder in Danbury, Conn., on May 5, 2016.