Thursday, May 1, 2008

Wild Fact: Rose-breasted Grosbeaks

After wintering as far south as Ecuador, Rose-breasted Grosbeaks are migrating to their breeding grounds in the Appalachians and northwestward into Canada. Slightly larger than their Cardinal cousins, these songbirds are strikingly beautiful. Males are jet black except for a raspberry triangle in the middle of their bright white chests. Females are much duller, streaked with brown but sporting white eyebrow lines. Both sexes have ivory cone-shaped bills, indicating a diet that includes seeds. You can help Rose-breasted Grosbeaks refuel during their journey north by offering sunflower or safflower seeds, preferably in platform feeders or tube feeders with trays ~ that way these large songbirds can perch comfortably while eating.

Photos (taken by Linda May, GA DNR-WRD) show Rose-breasted Grosbeaks eating safflower seeds from a Droll Yankee tube feeder with a tray. Cardinals and their relatives seem to particularly like safflower. An added benefit to offering safflower is that squirrels are not as attracted to this type of seed as they are other birdseeds.

WILD Facts is a new regular feature written by Linda May, a wildlife interpretive specialist with the Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division based at the Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center in Mansfield, Georgia.

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