Rose-breasted Grosbeak: A Colorful Addition to Our Yard

Its official name is Pheucticus ludovicianus, but rose-breasted grosbeak rolls off the tongue much easier. This beautiful bird decided to pay us a visit today. And it was a truly welcome surprise considering these birds are more often heard than seen. It stuck out due to its bright red patch on the breast and contrasting black and white plumage. Formerly, we only encountered this species once, and it was a non-breeding male. But today my husband and I were awed by the magnificent color combination of an adult breeding male.

Adult breeding male. Source: pbase.com
Adult breeding male. Source: pbase.com
Female Grosbeak. Source: thebirdguide.com
Female Grosbeak. Source: thebirdguide.com
Non-breeding male. Photo: M. Crosby
Non-breeding male. Photo: M. Crosby

Description

Rose-breasted grosbeaks are known for their ivory, pinkish bill, black head, bright red triangle on the breast, black and white wings and rump, red wing lining, and white underparts.  Our flying friend definitely fit the bill (pun intended).  Non-breeding males, like the one we already have a picture of are a much duller version of its breeding counterpart.  Adult females are a combination of white, buff, and brown streaks and a paler bill.  One look at their bill and you can tell they are part of the Cardinalidae family, which includes cardinals.    

Range map for rose-breasted grosbeak. Source: sdakotabirds.com/species/maps/rose_breasted_grosbeak_map.htm
Range map for rose-breasted grosbeak. Source: sdakotabirds.com/species/maps/rose_breasted_grosbeak_map.htm

Habitat

The rose-breasted grosbeak likes moist wetlands next to open fields with tall shrubs.  They also frequent old and overgrown orchards.  Our yard is far from the aforementioned, but we do live one house away from a heavily wooded area with a creek.  There are a lot of arborvitaes around the perimeter of our yard and various shrubs. 

Photo by M. Crosby
Photo by M. Crosby

What It Eats

Grosbeaks have a variety of foods they like to eat.  They include, but are not limited to, potato beetles and larvae, weed seeds, wild fruits and buds, berries, and insects in bushes and trees.  This information makes me wonder if I attracted the rose-breasted grosbeak by throwing some blueberries a little past their prime near the feeders this morning.  However, the bird was eating from one of our feeders.  The feeder is filled with a combination of sunflower and safflower seeds.

Sources

Alderfer, Jonathan, ed. National Geographic Field Guide to Birds: New Jersey. Washington, DC: National Geographic, 2005. Print.

Brinkley, Edward, S. National Wildlife Federation Field Guide to Birds of North America: New York: Sterling Publishing Co., Inc., 2007. Print.

Bull, John, and John Farrand, Jr. National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Birds: Eastern Region. Revised ed. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1994. Print.

Cite This Article

MLA

Crosby, Stephanie Bradberry. Rose-breasted Grosbeak: A Colorful Addition to Our Yard. HubPages, 2011. Web. Today’s date.

APA

Crosby, S. B. (2011). Title of article. Retrieved from http://www.hubpages.com/hub/Rose-breasted-Grosbeak-A-Colorful-Addition-to-Our-Yard

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23 comments

ColibriPhoto profile image

ColibriPhoto 5 years ago from Quito, Ecuador

Nice Hub Stephanie, lots of good information with a personal touch. Keep up the good work.


StephanieBCrosby profile image

StephanieBCrosby 5 years ago from New Jersey Author

ColibriPhoto, thanks for the nice note and inspiration.


JSParker profile image

JSParker 5 years ago from Detroit, Michigan

This is one of our favorite birds here in Michigan, too. I like your use of the three photos showing how the different birds look. Very helpful. Nice hub. Thanks.


StephanieBCrosby profile image

StephanieBCrosby 5 years ago from New Jersey Author

JSParker. Thank you for the favorable feedback. It helps having the other photos because some of ours are not always the best or show off the best features.


ripplemaker profile image

ripplemaker 5 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

Hearing the birds chirping is music to the soul! That is one of the things I like to do when I am outside on a lovely morning... ;)

Congratulations on your Hubnuggets nomination, Pets and Animals category. Read this week's hubnuggets and vote right here: http://hubpages.com/hubnuggets6/hub/Mary-Mary-Quit...


StephanieBCrosby profile image

StephanieBCrosby 5 years ago from New Jersey Author

ripplemaker, I also love the sound of birds chirping. The birds around me tend to start around 4 in the morning. But if there is an owl around, it can be all night long. Thank you so much for the congratulations. It does feel good to be a nominee.


Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 5 years ago from North Carolina

Great hub-enjoyed! Good luck in the hubnugget contest.


StephanieBCrosby profile image

StephanieBCrosby 5 years ago from New Jersey Author

Thank you so much Denise. I am glad you liked my hub.


Mrs. Menagerie profile image

Mrs. Menagerie 5 years ago from The Zoo

Hi Stephanie!

Another terrific bird hub from you! Congrats on your nomination!


StephanieBCrosby profile image

StephanieBCrosby 5 years ago from New Jersey Author

Thank you so much Mrs. Menagerie.


Diana Lee profile image

Diana Lee 5 years ago from Potter County, Pa.

I love to watch the birds. This hub is very informative. Thanks for sharing.


StephanieBCrosby profile image

StephanieBCrosby 5 years ago from New Jersey Author

Diana Lee. No problem for sharing the information. I was just happy to be able to identify and have a picture of a bird we only saw the female of before. Watching birds is fun, but can be frustrating if you are trying to identify them and are a novice like me.


dali48 profile image

dali48 5 years ago from Germany

Thank you SBC for your chirping Hub - It reminds me of my diary: (06/10/2011) This morning shortly before 7 clock - suddenly a tiny bird stuck his little head through the roof hatch window - before I could react somehow, it was gone again - a brief, fleeting, and fortunate Zen moment ... (d.48)


BkCreative profile image

BkCreative 5 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

Wonderful hub - thanks for all the information and I loved listening to the call. Beautiful. Had no idea there was such a thing as a non-breeding male - but even they can help balance nature. Actually, it makes a lot of sense and prevents a population explosion.

What a thrill to have nature show up - we are just too far removed from it all.

Great to meet you and now I will follow so I can keep up. Yay - and rated way up!


StephanieBCrosby profile image

StephanieBCrosby 5 years ago from New Jersey Author

dali48, it is really cool when something from nature grabs our attention and holds it. I love the fact that even though we are situated between a highway and the woods, my kids can wake up in the morning and see deer and rabbits. They spend a lot of time looking out the window at the birds too.


StephanieBCrosby profile image

StephanieBCrosby 5 years ago from New Jersey Author

BkCreative, I am glad you enjoyed my hub. It's great that WhatBird has useful tools like bird calls. I'm not sure if non-breeding is for life or if it is just because they are juvenile or finished breeding for the season. Thanks for the wonderful words and votes.


grandmapearl profile image

grandmapearl 5 years ago from Southern Tier New York State

Thanks Stephanie for the nice comment on my Hummingbird Flying Jewels Hub. I love rose breasted grosbeaks. After cardinals I have to say they are my second favorite. I do live in the woods, so they are here every spring. Thanks for the good information. A very nice hub!


StephanieBCrosby profile image

StephanieBCrosby 5 years ago from New Jersey Author

You are so lucky to get to see them every spring. I'm hoping that now two know we provide food more will come back next year. We get cardinals in mass. I must admit cardinals are sharp looking birds.


StephanieBCrosby profile image

StephanieBCrosby 4 years ago from New Jersey Author

Hello dali48. I am so sorry I did not reply back to your comment. For some reason it was under "Spam" in my filter and I just now found it. Thanks for commenting. Birds certainly are fleeting!


precy anza profile image

precy anza 4 years ago from San Diego

Love the color of the grosbeak bird! I wish we could have a grosbeak as a yard visitor. I would be happy to share blueberries with it! ^-^'


StephanieBCrosby profile image

StephanieBCrosby 4 years ago from New Jersey Author

Hello precy anza. I love the color too. The coloration is so simply yet striking. We have not seen one yet this year. But maybe we will get the rare visit soon. And speaking of blueberries, I just put some out this morning for the birds. I just hope the squirrels don't get to them first.


Au fait profile image

Au fait 3 years ago from North Texas

I love to watch the birds and wildlife generally. Living in an apartment I miss not being able to feed the birds and the squirrels. This is a very informative article and I enjoyed reading it.


StephanieBCrosby profile image

StephanieBCrosby 3 years ago from New Jersey Author

Hello Au fait,

We are two of a kind. I love watching different manners of nature. But wildlife tops the list. I hope you will get to a place where you can feed animals freely. Thanks for the compliment :)

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