Sunday, August 5, 2012

Evening Grosbeak, ABA's Bird of the Year 2012

Every May when the maple trees flower in western Oregon, flocks of Evening Grosbeaks descend to lowland backyards to eat the blossoms and newly forming seeds. At times, hundreds of birds may quickly empty the bird feeders of black oil sunflower seeds. Despite their locust-plague-like arrival at the feeders, they are so active and cheerful, and presence usually so brief, that all backyard bird feeding enthusiasts I know love hosting Evening Grosbeaks each spring. During the rest of the year, only small numbers of Evening Grosbeaks may show up occasionally at feeders.

These large finches are found throughout the year in the conifer forests. Flocks of nomadic birds follow the ripening cone crops, appearing for a brief time and then moving on.

Evening Grosbeak female
Evening Grosbeak female

The females, like the one shown above, have a bold black and white patterned wing. Even thought the body color is primarily gray, the subtle coloration and yellowish "shawl" over the neck is quite attractive.

I think of the males, not as yellow with dark heads but, rather, as a smokey blackish-brown fading gradually to yellow on the the lower breast and belly. The white secondaries against the rest of the black wing, create quite an impressive wing patch--both overhead in flight and at rest.

The common call is a rather loud slightly descending (or rising) whistled chirping: "cheer," or "chree" either clear or buzzy. Birds seem to give these calls constantly. Flocks flying over the forest canopy or through a residential neighborhood are quickly given away by the chorus of calls.

Evening Grosbeak male
Evening Grosbeak male
Is it just me, or does the head of the male Evening Grosbeak look an awfully lot like the football helmet insignia of the Minnesota Vikings--the yellow blaze appearing quite similar to the horns, and the thick bill reminiscent of the face mask? That bird in the back above looks like a linebacker ready to sack the quarterback. Ok, maybe not. Must just be getting close to football season....

The Evening Grosbeak is the American Birding Association's 'bird of the year' for 2012. Though formed primarily to cater to birders most interested in listing and rare birds, the association is now making a concerted effort to involve all birders, of all levels. You should check it out.

To learn more about the Evening Grosbeak, the American Birding Association, and the Bird of the Year program, click on the ABA BOY insignia below.
ABA Bird of the Year

1 comment:

  1. Nice post and photos. I am hoping to get these to=be life birds at my new feeders in VT