As you may know, many male birds of a species are very brightly coloured. This definitely holds true with the rose-breasted grosbeak. The male is striking with a black back and head, white rump and belly, and a deep rosy-red triangular patch on his breast. The female, however, is less conspicuous in shades of brown. She has brown streaking on both her pale breast and darker back along with a bold white eyebrow stripe.
Rose-breasted grosbeaks feed on insects, seeds, fruits and flower buds. Common foods include beetles, bees, ants, crabapples, service berries, and elderberries. They are also attracted to the seeds of maple, ash and pine. If you have these trees in your backyard you’re well on your way to providing an important food source for this bird. Rose-breasted grosbeaks will visit bird feeders as well, so their diet can be supplemented with the offering of some of their favourite seeds such as sunflower and safflower seed.
During spring migration, rose-breasted grosbeaks generally return to their Canadian range from the middle of April to late May. They have a broad distribution across southern Canada and can be found from British Columbia east to the Maritime Provinces. Typically, between August and September, they begin their migration south to Central and South America where they overwinter.
Rose-breasted grosbeaks can be found in a range of habitats including deciduous and mixed woodlands, along marshes, lakes, ponds and streams, and in pastures, parks and gardens. They are said to have one of the prettiest calls. It is comparable to that of the American robin but with a more melodic sound.
So the next time you see this beautiful bird, take a little time to enjoy its beauty and to listen for its song. It simply is a treat!