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.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Black and white bird with a bright red bib

Look who’s showing up at the bird feeders!
If you don’t fill the feeder in the spring and summer you are going to miss seeing some really neat birds up close. Yesterday when I woke up, a ray of sunshine was spotlighting a beautiful black and white bird with a brilliant blood-red bib. Rose-breasted Grosbeaks have arrived!

A relative of the Northern Cardinal, the Rose-breasted Grosbeaks migrate north in April and May in search of breeding grounds in Michigan, 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 the distinctive black and white male bird with a bright red chest. The females resemble a large brown sparrow with a white eyebrow. 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. He was at my feeder eating the Wild Birds Unlimited No-Mess Blend. As the bird establishes its nesting territory and the weather changes, over half of their diet is made up of insects. But they always are attracted to the water in a bath.
 
The Rose-breasted Grosbeak nests in deciduous and mixed forests. But the bird is still a bit of 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.

If you don’t see them at your feeder keep your ears open. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology describes the Rose-breasted Grosbeak (Pheucticus ludovicianus) song like that of the robin, only as sung by an opera singer, being mellower and more sweetly melodic.


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6 comments:

  1. I just had one of these at my suet feeder. He was beautiful. Never saw one before. I live in Surry, Maine.

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  2. I'm in southeastern Montana and have one visiting my suet feeder. We're new to the area and have never seen one of these and I had to google to find out what kind of bird this is. Thanks for posting this picture for me to find.:)

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  3. I had on on my feeder yesterday in Southwest Michigan (Dowagiac).

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  4. We had a rose-breasted grosbeak this a.m. in Bonita Arizona (about 5000' elevation) Beautiful bird and a real treat to see.

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  5. Just saw one today, in north FL, with a female at our bird feeder. Beautiful birds !

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  6. Saw a male on our bird feeder this morning at lake blackshear, cordele, ga

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