Mar 24, 2019

Rose-breasted Grosbeak

Close cousin to the cardinal, this bird is prevalent in Wisconsin but rarely seen

pheucticus ludovicianus

Photos by Chris Bellin

Article by Badger Sportsman staff 

The flashy, male rose-breasted grosbeak can be described as wearing a tuxedo with a red bib.

One can spot this bird starting around late April, when the rose-breasted grosbeak returns from Central America to breed. Wisconsin is at the core of the Rose-breasted grosbeak’s breeding range and they breed throughout the state. Despite this, they are not an overly common bird to see.

Its diet consists of seeds, nuts, fruits and insects. A platform feeder filled with its favorite seed, black-oil sunflower, is the best way to attract this bird. If squirrels become a problem, you can replace the black-oil sunflower with safflower. They will often be joined at the feeder with their cousin, the cardinal, who enjoy the same type of seeds.

The male’s song is similar to that of the robin, but the call given by both sexes “eek!”– like the sound of a sneaker on a gym floor – is unique and easier to learn. The females are harder to identify visually, but resemble a large purple finch with a large beak.

By September, the rose-breasted grosbeak is ready to travel south before the cold weather hits. They’ll fly non-stop over the Gulf of Mexico before reaching their winter home.