Monday, May 11, 2009

Passin' thru

For those with bird feeders still up, keep an eye peeled for this handsome guy. This is the Rose breasted Grosbeak which winters in Central America, Venezuela, Peru and Mexico and passes thru our area on migration as they head north. The male is pretty unmistakable with his black hood and back, snow white breast with a bright rose red triangle and black and white wings. The female resembles a large brown sparrow with a white eye stripe.

The name "grosbeak" obviously refers to the large heavy beak used to crack seeds that are the birds main diet. There are six grosbeak species that make their home in the east.

The first photo shows well the avian ear which is a small opening directly behind the eye. Birds have exceptional hearing but lack the external ear (pinna) that we see in humans and most mammals.