Birding Notes

Reflections on birds and other wildlife on the edge of a southern woodland

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Rose-breasted Grosbeak in a Green Rain

A gorgeous male Rose-breasted Grosbeak has been visiting the feeders in our front yard today. It is vividly colored, with black and white patterned wings, back and tail, an all-black head, large pinkish-ivory bill, and a deep rose-red bib that goes down the white breast in a perfect soft V-shape.

When not on the feeders, it’s been staying nearby in the new-green leaves of the water oaks and pecans. Among the sound of water dripping from the trees and shrubs, drenched from showers last night and this morning, the Grosbeak’s squeaking call – like the sound of a tennis shoe on a hardwood floor – gives away his location.

When he is on a feeder, he fends off just about all other birds. A male Cardinal approached once. The big Grosbeak partially flared its wings, parted its huge beak, and lunged toward the Cardinal, which flew away without further dispute.

The trees are all fast leafing out, and it seems to be raining green as the grass grows and more and more leaves open on oaks, sweet gums, and pecans, and even small dusty rose and green leaves are opening on some of the white oaks. Meanwhile, the white sprays of dogwoods still lace thickly through the woods. They’ve been especially pretty this spring.


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