Thursday, October 11, 2007

Rose-breasted Grosbeaks

The latest cold front brought us a nice splash of color to our feeders yesterday, in the shape of 3 Rose-breasted Grosbeaks! We have had them before at our feeders but we still get excited when they arrive during their migration to and from the tropics.

Rose-breasted Grosbeaks breed in the north eastern quadrant of the United States and into Central and Eastern Canada. They mostly nest in deciduous woods, favoring edges or openings that have a combination of shrubs and trees. They spend the winter in the tropics.

We typically see them in Tallahassee during April and October when they are migrating through our area. They are often seen visiting backyard feeding stations, especially ones that have hopper feeders containing Safflower, which is one of their favorite seed types. Backyards that have fruiting trees and/or shrubs are also likely to attract the Rose-breasted Grosbeak.

I watched the three grosbeaks yesterday foraging in one of our Dogwood Trees, stuffing their bellies with berries! Unfortunately our resident family of Northern Mockingbirds took exception to their dining habits, and chased them away! But to my delight they returned and started to feed from my Sky Cafe, which contains Safflower.

This morning I noticed that they were still around, and one of them, a male, started to eat Fruit Cake no-melt suet dough! That makes 16 species that have eaten this flavor of suet in my yard. One of the other birds, a young male, preferred sunflower chips and the female munched on Safflower.

So keep an eye out for a cardinal sized bird with a big chunky bill visiting your feeders this month, it may be a Rose-breasted Grosbeak.

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