The Evening Grosbeaks

As I pull into the lengthy, snow-covered driveway in Jefferson, New Hampshire, David Govatski fills the suet feeder that hangs from the edge of the forest-lined path next to his home. He greets me and explains that visitors have been coming to his house almost everyday as of late to see the Evening Grosbeaks. Every five years, this colorful bird shows up in large numbers in his neighborhood. As he has reported to the birding community over the past month, there have been as many as 100 Evening Grosbeaks present in his back yard and in the trees around his property. Since I’ve never seen even one of these birds, I decide to make the trek north to see these beauties. I am NOT disappointed!

Below is the colorful male and below that is the more muted, but still stunning, female:

According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, it is hard to predict where in the western and northeastern U.S. these birds will show up in any given winter. When they do move into an area, they usually appear at platform feeders that offer sunflower seeds, primarily near forested areas at higher elevations. Their diet consists largely of sunflower seeds, berries and buds – especially the buds of maple trees.

These large, yellow and black finches congregate at the platform feeder and then, as soon as they see me, they fly up into the trees. They are skittish, and at the slightest movement, they decide to fly away in a large group.

Then, after a few minutes, they return.

Prior to 1910, this species was uncommon to rare in New England, living primarily in the western United States. They began to migrate slowly eastward from the Rocky Mountains, ending up in Rhode Island by 1911. By the 1920s, they were considered a regular winter visitor in New England.

Below, the males begin to squabble. These birds have strong beaks that can crush the shells of sunflower seeds.

The Evening Grosbeaks eventually fly away and the chickadees move in. It is their chance to grab some food and stock up before the cold weather moves in…

And there are other birds hanging around, too, like this American Goldfinch waiting in the wings

and this American Tree Sparrow, below, who scurries around on the ground searching for seeds.

Tree Sparrows are different from Chipping Sparrows, although they can be mistaken for Chippings.

The Evening Grosbeaks decide it is safe to return and so kick the other songbirds off the feeders once again. David appears and helps me find the right spot from which to photograph the birds. He also hands me two chocolate almond biscotti. I love chocolate biscotti and so I eat them right away. I didn’t tell him I was on a New Year’s diet.

As I leave the north country, I see the Presidential Range from the north with Mount Madison on the left and Mount Adams on the right.

Thank you for coming along on my journey and I hope you enjoyed reading my blog!

– Diana

9 thoughts on “The Evening Grosbeaks

  1. Diana, 👏🏻👏🏻Love, love the way you share these birds! Mom used to sit at the window for hours watching the interaction and personalities of different birds at the feeder. Thanks for the memory!!🙏🏻🤗 Stay warm, G


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