Saturday, May 7, 2011
The rose-breasted grosbeak is one of the most beautiful songbirds in the United States, and until today I had only ever seen one in my life [well, actually, two, I discovered from searching this blog: my first at Nerstrand Big Woods State Park and another near Henderson, Minn.]. They're not rare, I've just not been in the right places at the right times. But today we came home from buying tomato, pepper, broccoli and basil plants and were chatting outside by the mailbox when I suddenly noticed what was at one of the bird feeders. "Blown away" would hardly do justice to how amazed and elated I was to see a male rose-breasted grosbeak snacking away on sunflower seeds.
It soon flew away, but an hour or two later it (or another male -- read on) was back, and it stayed for quite a while, not eating most of the time, just resting. Later when we had gone out again,my daughter noticed two males were at the same feeder. They may just be passing through, but I'm holding my breath and hoping that if they like the conditions here, we might have a nesting pair or two in the neighborhood.
We didn't hear this one singing, but the grosbeak's song has been described as like that of "a robin that's had singing lessons," being similar but richer and "more sweetly melodic" as the Cornell Lab of Ornithology says.
This was a terrific day for birds -- we had a flock of goldfinches at the feeders and saw some good birds on a quick trip to River Bend Nature Center. But even if we never see another one this year, having a rose-breasted grosbeak at our feeder today was surely one of the highlights of my life as a birder.