This beautiful songbird will be returning to its breeding grounds by the beginning of May. Rose-breasted Grosbeaks winter in Mexico through central South America and the Caribbean to Peru and Venezuela. In Canada they can be found from British Columbia to the Maritimes and as far north as the Yukon and Northwest Territories. Rose-breasted Grosbeaks migrate at night.
The male is a handsome black and white bird with a red triangle marking going from his neck down to mid breast. The female has a medium-brown coloured head and back, a distinctive white eyebrow, pale breast with some streaking and hints of peach by her wings. Both male and female have a large beaks similar in shape to the cardinals’. Their song is softly rich and quite beautiful. It has been referred to as sounding like a Robin who has had singing lessons.
You can find Rose-breasted Grosbeaks in almost all habitats including deciduous and mixed woodlands, marshes, meadows, park lands, and your backyard garden. Both male and female participate in nest building; composing it with leaves, small twigs and roots, grass, weeds and hair.
It is cup-shaped and will be built 5 to 20 feet above the ground. The nest is a little flimsy and the eggs can be viewed from below. She will lay 3-5 blueish-green eggs speckled with reddish brown spots. Both male and female will incubate the eggs for 12 days. The nestlings are fed mostly insects and will fledge the nest 9-12 days later. They depend on their parents for another 3 weeks. Rose-breasted Grosbeaks can have 2 broods during the nesting season, and the female may leave the male to look after the young while she builds another nest. The longest living Rose-breasted Grosbeak on record was 12 years, 11 months.
You can welcome these birds to your yard by offering safflower and sunflower seeds in a hopper feeder. This style feeder should provide a good sized platform for them to feed from. Rose-breasted Grosbeaks will also feed on ants and bees, service berries, elderberries and crabapples. They will also benefit your garden by eating potato beetles and their larvae, smarttail and foxwood seeds.
Rose-breasted Grosbeaks will remain in our region until approximately mid-September. If you have any questions about these birds, please visit one of our stores, we’d be happy to set you up with the right feeder, seed, and answer any questions you have.
Author – Jane Paradis