"I hope you love birds too. It is economical. It saves going to heaven."
Emily Dickinson

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Black-headed grosbeaks are back!

A female black-headed grosbeak was spotted in South Orange County.  Photo by J.J. Meyer
It must be spring!  Black-headed grosbeaks showed up in my back yard yesterday.
These beautiful songbirds breed in the spring and summer in the western United States and into the southern part of Canada.  Breeding males have a bright orange collar and underparts. Its head is black with a large gray bill. It has black wings with white patches.  The females are less colorful with dull orange underparts.  They also have a distinct white eyebrow and chin stripe, as shown above.

The males are sometimes confused with spotted towhees, which also have a black head and bright orange body.  To tell them apart, look for the grosbeaks' large triangular bill, that gives them the name.  They use those large bills to crack seeds and crush large insects such as beetles. You'll find them visiting feeders and hopping around near the brush foraging for insects.  Grosbeaks also love fruit, so don't be surprised if they visit your oriole feeder.

To attract them, offer fresh black oil sunflower seeds, millet and cracked corn. 

Happy birding!

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