A Rosy Evening


Sumner, United States

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Another Rose-breasted Grosbeak in my backyard in northeast Iowa.
Image taken with my Canon PowerShot SX30 IS.

Rose-breasted Grosbeak

The male Rose-breasted Grosbeak, boldly patterned in black, white, and rose, is easily identified. The drab, striped female, however, is more of a challenge, resembling a large sparrow or finch. A common bird of forests and second growth, the grosbeak’s song is like that of the robin, only as sung by an opera singer, being mellower and more sweetly melodic.

Medium-sized, stocky songbird.
Large, thick, pale, cone-shaped bill.
White flash in wings in flight.
Male distinctive with black hood, red chest, and white belly.

Male Description
Breeding (Alternate) plumage: Rosy red triangular breast patch. Black head and upperparts, sometimes with a few brown feathers. White underparts. White patches on wing; form wingbars at rest, large white spot in flight. White spots on outermost three feathers of black tail. Red wing linings. White rump; sometimes pink, usually with some dark marks.
Nonbreeding (Basic) plumage: Similar to breeding, but black feathers on upperparts have buff tips that partially hide the black. On head they create a buff center crown-stripe and face stripes. Throat and chin mottled black and pink. Pink breast dull. Resembles female, but wings and tail are deep black with white.

Female Description
Dull black crown stripes, with pale center stripe. White stripe over eye, brown face mask. Back brown with dark streaks. Chin, throat, and lower cheeks creamy white. Neck, breast, sides, and flanks cream or buff, with narrow or heavy black streaks. Amount of buff color and size and thickness of streaking is variable. Belly and under tail white. Rump olive brown. Tail brown. Two white wingbars. Some white in wings shown in flight. Yellowish to orange wing linings. Dark brown upperparts with brown streaks on breast.

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