27 May 2010

A Good Yard Bird

Two years ago, my friend Craig and I had a friendly competition to see who could see the most species in the county. Lately, our competitive natures have shifted to our yard lists. As of earlier this week, I'd seen 72 species at or from my yard since I moved here three years ago. That's pretty impressive, but Craig still had me beat by quite a bit, with 79 species from his apartment complex at last count. This week I moved one closer to catching him, and in a dramatic way. I found a female Rose-breasted Grosbeak at my feeder.

The Rose-breasted Grosbeak is common in the eastern US, but only very rarely wanders to the west in migration. Males are distinctive and easy to identify with their black and white plumage and bright red breast, but females are tougher. Some of the traits on this bird that set it apart from the Black-headed Grosbeak are the white breast with crisp brown streaking all the way across the breast (not really visible in this photo) and the pale pink bill with the upper mandible not noticeably darker than the lower one. Let the house list race continue. . . .