Rose-Breasted Grosbeak (Male)

Vickie Emms

Anola, MB., Canada

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Artist's Description

May 28, 2011

If I sit real still on a deck chair the birds seem to get used to seeing me there and go about their normal activities. I love watching the birds, but not without my trusty equipment in hand. Here it is sitting in the fresh green leaves of the Basswood Tree, and they love the Spruce and Birch Trees in my yard as well.

The Rose-breasted Grosbeak (Pheucticus ludovicianus) breeds in wooded areas from extreme southwest Northwest Territories, through northern British Columbia eastward to Nova Scotia, and south into Kansas and eastward across the northern half of the USA. It was a fairly common breeding bird of the northern parkland and mixed forest areas of the boreal region, preferring mature Trembling Aspen. The rapid cutting of this habitat in northern Alberta undoubtedly is a major cause of their decline. During migration, they can appear in treed areas throughout the grassland region, especially if forced down during a spring snow storm. At that time they may visit feeding stations.

This species arrives from its wintering areas from as far as Ecuador and Venezuela during the last half of May, appearing in any urban or rural treed area. Most go on to breed further north. However, some breed locally in Kananaskis and Bow Valley Prov. Park and have been recorded at Bottrell. They are present during June along the south slope of the Weaselhead Natural Area, indicating that they are breeding locally. Most have departed the province by late August.

During the nesting season, insects gleaned from tree-top vegetation is the mainstay of their diet. At other times, they take flowers, seeds, fruit and buds.

The nest is a loose collection of twigs and coarse plant material, lined with finer twigs, rootlets and hair, sited in a fork of usually a Trembling Aspen, 2 to 10 m high. The four bluish-green eggs are incubated by both sexes, with the male occasionally singing from the nest. Both parents actively feed the young which are ready to leave the nest after only nine days of age. Often two broods are reared. When that happens, the male tends to the young while the female builds a new nest.

Canon EOS Rebel XTi; Sigma 150-500mm lens @500mm
Ste. Rita, Manitoba, Canada

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