Always a rare thrill to see them; this was perhaps the second time in our 28 years here. But we don't see them in any great numbers. The seven or eight that showed up this weekend were a poor flock by grosbeak standards, but it was nice to have more than a lone stray stop by. Only males sport the jaunty yellow visor above the eye, and their plumage is much more dramatic in breeding season (and in better light than this early dawn).
In contrast, my first acquaintance with these startling birds, many years ago high in Coal Creek Canyon, was of a huge flock at a friend's winter feeder. ("Partial to sunflower seeds at feeding stations" says the bird book.) Larger than the usual finches and sparrows, they were quite a sight to witness! Evenings are, like the Pine Grosbeak also of our mountains, a winter species in our area. Our more usual visitor is the Black-headed Grosbeak of summer, which apparently I haven't blogged about beyond a casual mention at the link.
So of the five species of North American grosbeaks, we've now seen three here. The Rosies, like the Black-headed, are summer birds and rare. I can hope for a Pine Grosbeak some winter, but if (when?) I see the other summer species, a Blue Grosbeak, here I will be thoroughly stunned.
In other news, yesterday's trip to bank and grocery store brought a nature moment worth recording, one of those passing flashes that sticks with you. Turning onto the northbound two lanes of Kipling Parkway, I noticed a quick flutter in the gutter at the side of the road. As I rounded the corner toward it, a Kestrel rose from the concrete, dangling a fresh rodent dinner in his talons. Yummy! Groceries! (The lower Kipling corridor, with its broad margins and regularly spaced light poles, is actually an excellent spot for raptor observations. Unfortunately, I usually have my hands on a steering wheel instead of a camera at those moments.)
Evening Grosbeak Hesperiphona vespertina