About us: We own the Wild Birds Unlimited nature shop in East Lansing, Michigan,
a store that provides a wide variety of supplies to help you enjoy the birdwatching hobby.

This blog was created to answer frequently asked questions & to share nature stories and photographs.
To contribute, email me at bloubird@gmail.com.

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.