For the Birds: Grosbeaks delay closing

Photo by Chris Bosak A rose-breasted grosbeak perches on a branch in New England, June 2020. Merganser Lake.

So much for taking a break from feeding the birds. 

I mentioned in last week’s column that I had taken down my feeders for the summer as my visits had dwindled to a few species. I also mentioned that I continued to maintain a large platform feeder on my deck to keep those few birds happy. Well, that platform feeder is busier than ever. 

One day last week, while working from home and using the outdoor table on my deck as my office for the day, I watched as chickadees, nuthatches, titmice, catbirds, cardinals, blue jays, house finches, downy woodpeckers and red-bellied woodpeckers helped themselves to the offerings. 

The feeder, which is nothing more than a large, flat board I found in the basement, is big enough to hold a variety of foods: sunflower seeds, mealworms, suet nuggets and thistle seeds. I nailed a few small branches around the edge of the board to keep the seeds in place during windy days.

I was already pleasantly surprised by the variety of birds that were coming when a male rose-breasted grosbeak landed on the board. Thankfully, I had the foresight to bring the camera out to the table with me. I was quite sure the strikingly beautiful bird would take off as soon as I lifted my arms to grab the camera off the table as I was sitting only 9 or 10 feet away from the feeder. 

Slowly I moved my arms and watched as the black-and-white bird with a bright red triangular bib looked back at me. I was relieved when the bird looked away and started grabbing sunflower seeds. Still, I couldn’t risk double-checking my camera settings or autofocus point and I started photographing away. The settings were fine, luckily, and I got some nice, full-frame shots of the handsome songbird.

What also made the day special was that many of the birds that visited, especially the chickadees, titmice and downy woodpeckers, were first-year birds still gaining their adult plumage. The young woodpeckers usually arrived with a parent and watched and learned. It was amazing to think that some of these birds were born only a few weeks prior. I hope they visit for years to come and can avoid the many dangers birds face as they grow.

So I guess my summer feeding break isn’t going to pan out, which is fine with me. I’ll continue to enjoy the show as long as it lasts.

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 rose-breasted grosbeak close-ups

Photo by Chris Bosak A rose-breasted grosbeak perches on a branch in New England, June 2020. Merganser Lake.

A Day on Merganser Lake

I posted one close-up shot of a rose-breasted grosbeak last week, but of course, I have more shots. So here’s a couple more.

Photo by Chris Bosak A rose-breasted grosbeak perches on a branch in New England, June 2020. Merganser Lake.
Photo by Chris Bosak A rose-breasted grosbeak perches on a branch in New England, June 2020. Merganser Lake.

Bonus close-up of rose-breasted grosbeak

Photo by Chris Bosak A rose-breasted grosbeak perches on a branch in New England, June 2020. Merganser Lake.

A Day on Merganser Lake

Here’s a random close-up of a rose-breasted grosbeak. Why not?

Photo by Chris Bosak A rose-breasted grosbeak perches on a branch in New England, June 2020. Merganser Lake.

More rose-breasted grosbeak feeding shots

Photo by Chris Bosak A rose-breasted grosbeak pair visits a feeder in Danbury, CT, May 2020. Merganser Lake.

A Day on Merganser Lake

Here are a few more shots of the grosbeaks in love.

Photo by Chris Bosak A male rose-breasted grosbeak feeds a female rose-breasted grosbeak in Danbury, CT, May 2020. Merganser Lake.
Photo by Chris Bosak A male rose-breasted grosbeak feeds a female rose-breasted grosbeak in Danbury, CT, May 2020. Merganser Lake.
Photo by Chris Bosak A male rose-breasted grosbeak feeds a female rose-breasted grosbeak in Danbury, CT, May 2020. Merganser Lake.
Photo by Chris Bosak A male rose-breasted grosbeak feeds a female rose-breasted grosbeak in Danbury, CT, May 2020. Merganser Lake.
Photo by Chris Bosak A male rose-breasted grosbeak feeds a female rose-breasted grosbeak in Danbury, CT, May 2020. Merganser Lake.

Rose-breasted grosbeaks in love

Photo by Chris Bosak A male rose-breasted grosbeak feeds a female rose-breasted grosbeak in Danbury, CT, May 2020. Merganser Lake.

A Day on Merganser Lake

I’ve already posted photos of eastern bluebirds and northern cardinals feeding each other. Now, it’s the rose-breasted grosbeak’s turn. I took these photos a few weeks ago, but just now getting around to posting them. Click here to read I column I wrote about the behavior.

Birds to brighten your Day: May 17

Photo by Chris Bosak
A rose-breasted grosbeak shows off its red feathers in its “wing pits” in New England, May 2020. Merganser Lake.

A Day on Merganser Lake

Male rose-breasted grosbeaks are known for their beautiful plumage: contrasting black-and-white overall with a large rose-red triangle patch on the chest. The red under the wings is not seen often, even in flight. Here’s a shot that shows that extra splash of color.

(Repeat text for context:  I’m running out of COVID-19 lockdown themes so from now until things get back to some semblance of normalcy, I will simply post my best photo from the previous day. You could say it fits because of its uncertainty and challenge. I’ll call the series “A Day on Merganser Lake,” even though that’s not the real name of the lake I live near in southwestern Connecticut, it’s just a nod to my favorite duck family.)

Photo by Chris Bosak A rose-breasted grosbeak shows off its red feathers in its “wing pits” in New England, May 2020. Merganser Lake.

Birds to brighten your day: May 11

Photo by Chris Bosak
A rose-breasted grosbeak perches on a feeder in New England, May 2020. Merganser Lake.

A Day in Merganser Lake XX

This isn’t the first and hopefully won’t be the last rose-breasted grosbeak in this series. I’m pretty sure they nested in the woods behind my property two years ago. I’m hoping they repeat that this year. Daily visits by rose-breasted grosbeaks would certainly brighten up these odd times.

(Repeat text for context:  I’m running out of COVID-19 lockdown themes so from now until things get back to some semblance of normalcy, I will simply post my best photo from the previous day. You could say it fits because of its uncertainty and challenge. I’ll call the series “A Day on Merganser Lake,” even though that’s not the real name of the lake I live near in southwestern Connecticut, it’s just a nod to my favorite duck family.)

Birds to brighten your day: May 2

Photo by Chris Bosak A rose-breasted grosbeak visits a feeder in New England, May 2020. Merganser Lake.

A Day on Merganser Lake XXIII

On the first day of May, “my” rose-breasted grosbeaks showed up. First, it was one male at my bedroom window feeder. Later, it was two males — both at my backyard feeding station. Welcome back! I look forward to seeing more of their relatives in the coming weeks.

Remember, always feel free to let me know via email or comment what you’re seeing.

(Repeat text for context:  I’m running out of COVID-19 lockdown themes so from now until things get back to some semblance of normalcy, I will simply post my best photo from the previous day. You could say it fits because of its uncertainty and challenge. I’ll call the series “A Day on Merganser Lake,” even though that’s not the real name of the lake I live near in southwestern Connecticut, it’s just a nod to my favorite duck family.)

A few yard visitors, part I

Photo by Chris Bosak
A rose-breasted grosbeak eats safflower seeds from a feeder in Danbury, Conn., May 2019.

Now that Warbler Week has passed and the spring migration is on a downward trend (but far from over), I’ll take the next few weeks to share photos of some yard visitors I’ve had this spring. As always, feel free to contact me with what birds you’ve been seeing. Send to chrisbosak26@gmail.com. Be sure to include the town and state in which the sighting was made. Thanks!

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.