11.01.15: Male Grosbeak

Male Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Prairie Oaks Metro Park, West Jefferson, Ohio. 


Technical information

June 21, 2008,
10:07 a.m.

39°59’31” N,
83°15'9" W
(Show in Google Maps)

Canon EOS 40D

Canon EF 600mm f/4L, Canon 1.4x teleconverter (840mm) 


1/100th second


The male Rose-breasted Grosbeak is a very distinct bird, with its black and white plumage highlighted by a bright rose splotch on the chest. 

I don’t encounter Grosbeaks very often on my photo hikes here in Central Ohio, although I know they hang around this area. It may be a case of wrong place, wrong time for me, so maybe the law of averages will kick in and I’ll see a lot of Grosbeaks next summer.

I found this male Grosbeak in a tree in Prairie Oaks Metro Park west of Columbus, Ohio. It was sitting in a sunny spot in the woods, occasionally making a sharp “chink” sound to alert others of its location. I was able to grab a couple of shots before it flew deeper into the woods.

The Grosbeak is a member of the cardinal family (Cardinalidae). It’s a songbird that has been described as sounding like a bird that’s had operatic training. The bills are very similar to bills on Northern Cardinals: large and thick. The diet is also similar: insects, seeds, berries and fruit.

While the males are very distinctive, female and immature Rose-breasted Grosbeaks tend to blend with the surroundings. Both are streaked brown and white with a somewhat bold face pattern and the same enormous bill found on the male.

Grosbeaks spend much of the spring and summer in the northeastern United States and southeastern to central Canada, hanging around forests. According to the various field guides, Grosbeaks can often be found in parks (but apparently not when I’m there). They migrate to Central and South America for the winter.

Each week I will post a photo from my collection with an explanation of how I got the shot. Previous photos of the week are in the archives.