Evening Grosbeak, male
Evening Grosbeaks are awesome birds. They're big, bold, beautiful, and big piggies at your bird feeder – if you are lucky enough to have them. They breed in forests across the very northern areas of the U.S., in Canada, and across higher elevations of the West. They can irrupt down into much of the lower U.S. during non-breeding, especially when their food availability is less. The American Birding Association has chosen them as their 2012 bird of the year, hoping this will inspire birders to be more conspicuous and spread the excitement of birding. Here are some of my photos and reasons why Evening Grosbeaks are cool. For starters, just look at those knock-out colors of the male.
And that beak! Gros-beak, they're not kidding. The big bill can easily handle cracking open sunflower seeds.
Here's a male at our bird bath in NH. What dramatic colors of the male, and people have likened the plumage pattern to a space cadet uniform.
Here's the female, who has a more subtlety colored uniform, but then again she has to sit on the nest to incubate and it's best not to be too conspicuous.
The best way to attract Evening Grosbeaks is to throw them a sunflower party (their favorite feeder food), with lots of seating room.
A large tray works best,
or a tube with a ledge wide enough to accommodate Grosbeaks, who, at 8" in length, might shop in the plus size department.
In our area of SW New Hampshire, Grosbeaks sometimes breed, lucky us. Here they are in numbers at at feeder in our town. In the old days (pre-1980), we remember years when there would be large invasions of Evening Grosbeaks at our feeders in MA. Grosbeaks seem to have experienced a population decline since then, although the cause is not clear. Some think they are not moving as far south during the winter due to the hemispheric trend in warmer winter weather, or declines might relate to food availability, or other causes.
And here is a fledgling Evening Grosbeak getting fed at a feeding station in our town. Getting it's first taste of sunflower seed, yum!
Hope this cool bird inspires you to pick up your binoculars, invite the birds to your feeders, and share your joy with others.