A new yard bird today! I don't keep a written yard list, but am happy to add a new one to the *list* anyway! Lots of people get grosbeaks at their feeders, but what a surprise it was for me to pull into the driveway from work and see this guy feeding on stray sunflower seeds beneath the feeders. I've never even spotted them in the neighborhood before, but guess I could easily have missed them because their song is so similar to a Robin's. I called my husband on the cell phone and told him to come to the kitchen window to see it. I woke him from a nap, but he was excited to see it anyway. I love spring migration and its many surprises! I didn't have a chance to take a pic, but found this pretty one on flickr.com originally uploaded by RicKarr.
"The evening was calm and beautiful, the sky sparkled with stars. Suddenly there burst on my soul the serenade of the Rose-breasted bird, so rich, so mellow, so loud in the stillness of the night, that sleep fled from my eyelids. Never did I enjoy music more." - John James Audubon quoted in For the Birds: An Uncommon Guide by Laura Erickson.
Erickson describes the grosbeak's song as "like a Robin who takes voice lessons. [The song] is a long, rich warble. Robins sing long sentences, the words often three syllables - Rose breasted Grosbeak sentences can't be broken into distinct words as easily." For the Birds 5-29
In Bird Lore (1901) Emily B. Pellet describes the grosbeak's song as a musical, "You're a pretty bird. Where are you?" I think of it like a Robin's, but in a deeper, more tenor voice and listen for its sharp "kick" call note.
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