Sunday, June 8, 2008

Casual Rose-breasted Grosbeak in the Ozarks

This e-mail from Marvin DeJong arrived late this afternoon:

Hey Greg, should there be Rose-breasted Grosbeaks around. There was one at our feeder this afternoon. Isn't it kind of late?

I quickly replied:
Yes, definitely.  It is casual in the Ozarks in the summer, but nests in  the Glaciated Plains in northern Missouri.   It should be documented.   The last June sighting down here was in Springfield in 1986 by Connie  Tyndall.   She saw an adult male and an immature bird.   Some of these  sightings are unpaired birds.  If you see a pair, it is possible that a  nest is near.  If so, it would be the southernmost nesting record in Missouri, and a very, very big deal.  In 1885, the last southern nesting  record was in Freistatt in Lawrence County.  That's farther north that  you are.   As it is, it is a casual record.   Any photos? Great discovery! Greg

Marvin replied:
Here is its picture.


The Lorax said...

Very nice, Greg!

Greg said...

Always great to hear from the Lorax!
Keep speaking for those trees!

N8 said...

You put that up just to taunt me didn't you?

noflickster said...

What a cool bird! He looks a bit odd with all of the brown in the wings and on the back and the incomplete black hood. I did a little reading and discovered he's likely a "yearling" male in "Alternate I" plumage. Next year he should look like a typical adult with the striking black, white, and red coloring.

Yearlings typically migrate later than adult males, though not usually this late. I wonder if he's slowly making his way to the "normal" breeding grounds, or if he's had enough for this year.

As always, neat shot, thanks for posting about it!
- Mike

Greg said...

Oooh, I forgot about your big year nemesis!
But, then, yes, I've always driven you crazy!

Thanks for the update on plumage. I had inquired on MoBirds listserv about whether it was a nonbreeding male or a late migrant and had not received an answer. Sounds like it is both.

noflickster said...

I did a little more reading in the Birds of North America Online about age at first breeding, here's what they wrote:

"Both sexes capable of breeding at age 1 yr, but yearlings arrive later on breeding grounds and may be less likely to obtain territories or mates. In a study of territorial behavior, Dunham noted considerable variation in male plumage without commenting on color of primaries, suggesting all of the males were at least 2 yr old. Yearling males with greater amounts of adult plumage (indicating a more extensive Prealternate molt) arrive earlier in spring, so may be more likely to breed than later-arriving individuals with extensive retained Juvenal feathers."

I agree, he probably is both a late migrant and non-breeding. Hopefully next year will be his year!
- Mike

marvin d said...

Hey, nice to see all this comment when I just glance out the window and see an unusual bird at the feeder and take its picture. That's what I like about birders; they really are into it and they love what they do! Without Greg to guide my way and answer my stupid questions, I wouldn't be much of a birder.


Greg said...

Thanks for the great grosbeak info.
Sometime when you return to Arkansas, it would be nice to get together. I still need that Mt. Magazine Rufous Crowned Sparrow and those Red-cockaded Woodpeckers down south!

Wait a minute, you've seen enough of my quick miscalls to know at times it's like the blind leading the blind. I find solace in the fact that I'm getting a little better all the time!
And it's all a bit humbling to acknowledge that I've learned much of what I know from my son Nathan, starting when he was 13. He continues to be the birder that I check with when I'm ready to go out on a limb with a call!

noflickster said...

While I love reading about people's experiences, insights, and skewed views on all these topics, I'm finding I learn a lot from the "homework" I assign myself afterwards. That is, I see a bird photo that looks odd, or read an observation that someone casually mentions, and I'm off to the references to see what that's all about.

All that's to say, I've learned a ton from reading bird blogs, especially in the follow-up!

It would be great to meet up someday. Since my wife and I are both Razorback grads we've been talking about re-visiting Fayetteville on one of our trips back; I believe that's not too far from your neck of the Ozarks. And if you ever find yourself in our corner of NY, be sure to let me know!

Keep up the great posts (and Marv, the great photos)!