About us: We own the Wild Birds Unlimited nature shop in East Lansing, Michigan,
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This blog was created to answer frequently asked questions & to share nature stories and photographs.
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Monday, May 2, 2011

Black and White Bird with Red Chest

There have been a lot of new faces at the feeder lately! The one I've been getting the most phone calls about this week is the Rose-breasted Grosbeak:
Rose-breasted Grosbeak Pheucticus ludovicianus
Order: PASSERIFORMES Family: Cardinals and Grosbeaks (Cardinalidae)

Description: The male has a black hood and back with small white patches on the wings. It has white underparts with a rose breast. The female, resembling a large sparrow, has scaled brown upperparts, streaked brown underparts, and a white eyebrow.

General: The name “grosbeak” is from the French word grosbec and means “large beak.” They are very common feeder birds at the beginning of spring preferring sunflower, safflower, suet, fruit, and nuts. As the bird establishes its nesting territory and the weather changes, over half of their diet is made up of insects. The Rose-breasted Grosbeak is beneficial to farmers, consuming many potato beetles and weed seeds. Their huge beaks allows them to eat large grasshoppers, crickets and other insects that have tough exoskeletons. The rest of its diet consists of seeds, fruits, and buds.

Behavior: The Rose-breasted Grosbeak nests in deciduous and mixed forests. There has been no significant changes in populations noted. The increase in the feeder sitings could be due to change in habitat or an increase in the bird feeding hobby. The bird is a mystery. Its life history has not been well-studied and little is known on their migration routes, dispersal, habitat use, and nutrition during migration and on wintering grounds. Even the species name ludovicianus which means "from Louisiana" doesn't make sense because it is just a migrant there.

86 comments:

Anonymous said...

Just had one of these in our tree in the backyard. First time!

Jackie from Waterbury, Connecticut

Mrs_O said...

We saw this lovely bird at our feeder for the first time yesterday. He is back again today, hope its a good sign that he will be staying. (Covington, GA)

Mrs_O said...

We saw this lovely bird at our feeder for the first time yesterday. He is back again today, hope its a good sign that he will be staying. (Covington, GA)

Anonymous said...

We had one of these beautiful colored male birds at our feeder this morning for the first time. (Baton Rouge, LA)

Anonymous said...

Englewood, FL. I just had three males at my front yard bird feeders. I have never seen them before. What a treat on Earth Day!!!!!

Anonymous said...

There was a male at our bird feeder just now. Also about twelve male and female indigo buntings. We've never had either of these visit us. So exciting! I guess the grosbeak is probably just passing through.
Louise Cortez, Florida

Anonymous said...

We just had a male and female at our feeder today! Jacksonville, Fl.

Anonymous said...

We just had one today in Naples, FL, what a beautiful bird!!

Sandi

vernon said...

I`m sure this is what I just saw in my back yard, never saw one before so i had to find out what it was, Patton, Pa

Anonymous said...

We had two beautiful males on our feeders this morning. Haven't seen them here before..Beautiful birds!
Darlene
Hendersonville, TN

Anonymous said...

Lin from Muscle Shoals Al.2:00 pm c-time. just looking out livingroom window and saw two male what a treat, just had two males,with possible their ladies also. We have alot of cow birds, Red Wing Black Birds, Sparrows, Few Blue Jays around but wouldn't feed. Two pair of Nuthatchers, All what a bunch of Cardinals in pairs we have. back yard robins bluebirds. havn't seen Humming Birds yet maybe to early? We live on lower end of Wilson Lake off of Wheeler Dam all off Tenn River. Surounded by farm land and pastures.

inSANEmom said...

Thank you! We have had three males and one female at our feeder this week. Funny thing is... we thought we had two birds we couldn't identify... turns out the brown one was just the female version! (Huntsville, AL)

Anonymous said...

Ann from NC
We too thought we had seen a rear bird to our area. We have a lot of cardinals so I guess the 4 males and females we saw are their realtives.

Anonymous said...

Ann from NC
I meant rare bird not rear bird. Oh dear!

Anonymous said...

LBM from Shelbyville KY Had them at my feeder for the first time today

Anonymous said...

my inlaws had one on their feeder this weekend. the first time they have seen one, as well

Anonymous said...

Adrian from Queenston, Ontario CDN.
This is the first time we had them at our feeder too. Two males, what a gorgeous bird. No pastures in our area, surrounded by vineyards, fruit trees, woods and the Niagara River.
Don't know if they normally come this north.

Wild Birds Unlimited Mid-Michigan said...

Each spring the Rose-breasted Grosbeaks migrate north in April and May in search of breeding grounds in southern Canada and the northcentral and northeastern United States. They are a Neotropical migrant, and will return to Mexico, Central America, and South America as early as August.

Most are very hungry during migration and take advantage of food offered at feeders. It's quite a sight to see this distinctive black and white bird with a bright red chest!

Their diet consists of insects, seeds, buds, flowers, fruits and berries. When they begin to nest they will look for more bugs and less seed to feed babies. But they always are attracted to the water in a bath.

Thank you for your comments! Sarah

Anonymous said...

We live in Shepherdsville Ky. and we havent seen this Bird before, beautiful. Saw it first time yesterday

Anonymous said...

Our story is pretty much the same as the others...saw this beautiful birt at the feeder for the first time ever today at 1pm. Went straight to the computer to look it up and found the pictures and wonderful comments on your site. Our guy was sitting patiently on the branch next to the feeder waiting on a red wing to get his fill first. The new guy on the block really is beautiful. Hope he sticks around for a while anyway. :) PC from the armpit of FL (Perry)

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful sight, just saw this magnificent bird for the 1st time at my safflower feeder, hope he stays around. Northport, NY

Anonymous said...

First time we have ever seen this bird at our feeder. It was the male and his breast was a solid patch of bright fire engine red. Absolutely beautiful. Managed to snap a couple of photos before he flew off. Kingston, Ontario

Anonymous said...

Just saw one at my house. First time I've ever seen one of these. Got some good pictures, and now i'm hoping he sticks around :-) I'm feeding black oil sunflower seeds and a suet cake. Have never seen these birds in my area before. Hamilton, OH

Anonymous said...

We have had two males at our feeder for the past 3 days - beautiful birds. Learned the name of the bird thru this site - will watch for the females. This is the first time they have appeared for us here in Alcona Beach (Innisfil) Ontario.

Anonymous said...

One flew into our mirrored window in Sioux City, Iowa today. First one I have seen.

Anonymous said...

Lots of them here at our feeder May 10, 2012 - Yarker, Ontario

Anonymous said...

just had one at my feeder this morning, had coffee with him on my back deck, awsome sight first thing in the morning, portland ny

Anonymous said...

This is my first time to see this bird,too.He sounds like the finches. I want to see him again.Arlington,Tx

Anonymous said...

we have this bird in bc canada ,had them last year, back this year now i no what kind it is

Anonymous said...

Just saw this gorgeous bird at my feeder. So cool! First time we have seen one - Jesup, Iowa

Anonymous said...

Saw one for the first time at my feeder yesterday. Beautiful bird. Hope it returns :)

Anonymous said...

Saw one for the first time at my feeder yesterday... Hope it returns. Canonsburg, PA

Anonymous said...

First time today I have seen a rose-breasted grosbeak in my Grand Blanc Michigan back yard. I got 2 decent pictures but neither of them showed his beautiful red breast unfortunately. Lovely today with hummers, baltimore orioles, cardinal nest found today under the leaves of my fall clematis - very exciting to see the parents on their way in and out of the shelter of leaves they found themselves to build!

Anonymous said...

Ours started coming out last year and is a more frequent visitor to our feeder this year. Absolutely beautiful. We have the male and female so we're hoping for offspring. =)
McDonald, PA

Anonymous said...

Ours showed up yesterday at the new feeder. It is a stand alone feeder on a ten foot pole. I had just moved the feeder out of a tree about a week ago. A very beautiful bird. Canonsburg Pa.

Anonymous said...

Had a beautiful one of these here in Booneville, Arkansas (04-17-13) and had to look him up.

jeannette said...

Saw today in Havana, Florida a Rose Breasted Rosbeak 4/18/2013

Anonymous said...

Helen April 19,2013
Saw one of the males in Groves, TX. Will he stay around?

Silly8 said...

I have never seen this beautiful bird before this past weekend April 19-21, 2013.
I have seen two males, one broad chested, one skinny, and one female feeding at my backyard feeder since Friday.
I hope they stay, although, I do not think they will stay.
Pasadena, Texas

Anonymous said...

I just had a male fly into my window he is very still, I hope he will recover, have never seen one before they are quite beautiful
Lula, Georgia

Anonymous said...

Saw at our feeder for the first time this morning. Breathtaking. The red on the chest area was absolutely amazing. Such a bold and beautiful color. A beautiful sight to behold this morning. Fordyce, Arkansas

Anonymous said...

I live in Nashville and we just started getting some around our feeders this past weekend april 26/27 2013

Anonymous said...

Just saw a male Rose-breasted Grosbeak on my birdfeeder. What a beautiful bird with its red chest. April 30, 2013 @ 6:20 pm, Rossville, Georgia. First time here on my window feeder. Hope he or they keep coming back.

Anonymous said...

From Richmond, TX - 20 miles southwest of Houston. I just had a male Rose Breasted Grosbeak on my birdfeeder, too! We've never had one before. He was quite comfortable and posed for many pics! I hope he has a mate and they make our backyard their spring home!

Karen Soro said...

A male just turned up at our feeder on Mud Island (middle of Mississippi River) in Memphis, TN

Anonymous said...

May 1, 2013
Have a male at my feeder, in Naperville Illinois. The first i've seen!

Anonymous said...

Just saw a pair at my feeder this morning for the first time here in Southern Indiana.

At first I thought I had a woodpecker because of the black and white markings and then I saw the bold red marking on the chest and the beak structure. And like others have posted, I had to get on the computer and look up what I had.

Truly a beautiful bird!!

Anonymous said...

Had males and females on my feeders this morning. In south Chicago area. Very beautiful!

Anonymous said...

Male on feeder this afternoon. North side of Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve, Burr Ridge, IL, DuPage County

Anonymous said...

don't know if male or female but something to see I even got a picture I love watching our bird feeder from newton falls ohio

Anonymous said...

just saw one at the feeder with the sunflower seeds, he appears to have a female here but she is uncolored. hale, Missouri

Anonymous said...

Saw one at our feeder for the first time yesterday, today there are two. Beautiful. Nolensville TN

Anonymous said...

Just saw one on my feeder. What a great sight! Lumberton, Texas

Anonymous said...

Was headed to church when I saw this beautiful bird on my suet on the front deck. There were two of them. I grabbed my camera and took pictures of it for I've never seen one before. We live in the foothill of the Smokey Mountains in North Carolina! Sure hope they hang around!!

Anonymous said...

Just saw three males and a female on our bird feeder on the deck. We live in Clintwood, Virginia.

Anonymous said...

I just had one in my backyard.Tennessee backyard

Anonymous said...

i mean knoxville tennessee

Anonymous said...

Just saw one on our front pourch. Never seen it before had to google it!
State college, pa

Anonymous said...

I too have one at my feeder today!...what a beautiful bird..The red is so bright...My husband guessed it was a grosbeak...However knowing the name of it..being Rose Breasted grosbeak...Love that its easy to remember..:)..Had to google it and look it up..

Bancroft,Ontario :)

Anonymous said...

My brother and I just noticed this beautiful bird at our feeder about a week and a half ago. We where amazed by the brilliant colors on it. Finally decided to look it up and find out what type of bird it was. We have noticed a quite a few of them in the last few days. We spend a lot of time watching them, as well as, other birds at our feeders.

Anonymous said...

I just had one at my bird fedder awesome loking bird first time have ever seen one

Anonymous said...

We have had one of these birds for the first time at our feeders in dimondale. They are beautiful. I also have a bird that I thought was a female oriole but now I am not sure. She is mostly light brown with some white speckles and a faint tinge of orange here and there on it's chest.

Anonymous said...

If anyone could identify the brown bird I described in the above post, I would appreciate it. She might be a female grosbeak.

Anonymous said...

Saw one of these birds over the weekend at our camp near Mercersburg, PA, he couldn't get enough sunflower seeds, so beautiful!!!! Had to google to find out what kind of bird it was, never saw one before. Hope he keeps coming back. May have seen a female as well, but thought that it was a sparrow or wren, so not sure about the female???? The male was so content eating that we could almost walk right up to him!

Anonymous said...

One of these males has come to our bird feeder both yesterday and today - such a stunning bird, I noticed him right away. He is beautiful, indeed! We had some last Spring as well, but I couldn't find out what kind of bird it was until today (great website - thanks!) We live in Pickering, Ontario, just east of Toronto. Hopefully he'll stick around, but I know he didn't last year - he just moved on.

Anonymous said...

We saw one at our feeder for the first time yesterday. Had to google him because we never had one before . He came today with the female. Very pretty bird with a beautiful song.

Anonymous said...

Forgot to mention we're from Seymour, CT

Anonymous said...

Had a pair of these at my feeder today. Jan from Dublin Ga.

CoMa57 said...

male spotted at sunflower seed feeder in Ocean Springs, MS

Anonymous said...

Just spotted a male in my feeder here in Goochland, VA! What a thrill!

Anonymous said...

Mamaw chickens April 29, 2014 at 10:30 a.m.

Saw one at my feeder at Coal Mountain, W.V.. Never saw one before today. Very pretty bird too.

Anonymous said...

Had a male on the deck eating seeds I put on hand rail! Concord, Ohio at noon on 4/30/2014

Anonymous said...

Had two sets (male and female) at my feeder today in Covington, VA.

Anonymous said...

I just had two males at my bird feeder in MEADVILLE, PA. What a beautiful bird!

Wendie said...

Two males at my feeder also - Lagrange Kentucky

Anonymous said...

Saw a male on my feeder just minutes ago. First time seeing this bird. Stanford, KY

Anonymous said...

We have had the female and male at our feeder for the past 3 days. Didn't know what kind of bird they were. Never even seen them at our feeder before either. Learned what they were by your website. Beautiful birds. Youngstown, Ohio

Anonymous said...

We have two pair and one juvenile at our bird feeder today. Started out with a singel pair...flock is growing. Aurora Il

Anonymous said...

Last week I spotted a male Rose-Breasted Grosbeak at our bird feeder in Concord, NH

Anonymous said...

There was one in my feeder, and it also sings like a robyn. beautiful bird.

Anonymous said...

Just saw one at our bird feeder today for the first time! What a beauty! Dunedin, FL (Tampa Bay area)

Anonymous said...

We've just seen 2 male and a female lovely birds. First time we've seen them this year at the feeder. We live in Hollywood, Alabama

Anonymous said...

My first ever rose-breasted grosbeak. Thank you for your website to identify him for me. This was a male, at our feeder in Atlanta, GA.

Anonymous said...

Just saw 2 males at my feeder. Never saw them before, what handsome fellows. Pass Christian, MS



April 27, 2015 @ 2:45 p.m.

Vicki Sullivan said...

I just saw a male rose breasted grosbeak for the first time. Beautiful birds.

Vicki Sullivan said...

Addition to previous comment Marlborough Massachusetts I saw a male rose breasted crosswalk.