Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Pic of the Day

Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Pheucticus ludovicianus
Point Pelee, Canada; Shows rose colored breast.

Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Pheucticus ludovicianus: Hartwick Pines State
Park; Grayling, Michigan
     Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Pheucticus ludovicianus – Hartwick Pines State Park; Grayling, Michigan:  The rose-breasted grosbeak is a common visitor to my bird feeder for about two weeks in April, and for two weeks that span late September and early October during the fall. 
     I am always excited when the grosbeaks arrive; they bring brilliant contrast and color to my feeders with their dapper plumage.  Back in my bird-banding days I would often catch the hefty birds in my mist nets.  Grosbeaks have strong beaks that are ideally suited for cracking hard seed shells, as well as drawing blood from a bird-bander’s finger. 
When I would find a rose-breasted grosbeak in my mist net, I would take a small stick, about two-inches long, and hold it in front of the grosbeaks, beak.  The grosbeak would immediately reach out and bit the stick, latch onto it and not let go.  I could then retrieve the bird from the mist net, and band it without the bird biting me;……..those were the days!
     Grosbeaks that I see at my feeders in April are stopping to refuel.  They are migrating, heading north to breeding grounds in our northern states and Canada.  This past June, I was in Michigan where rose-breasted grosbeak nest.  While on the Kirtland’s warbler tour I ask the guide about good birding locations in the Grayling area.  She had lots of locations to tell me about, but the one that sounded the most interesting was Hartwick Pines State Park.   Hartwick Pines is the largest state park in Michigan and has a large variety of birds.  She told me I could get good photographs of rose-breasted grosbeak there.  That was all it took.  I did not have a wide variety of rose-breasted grosbeak images in my files, so I was off to Hartwick Pines. 
     When I arrived, it was more that I could have imagined, both rose-breasted and evening grosbeaks were flying to and from the feeders, landing on branches within easy photographic range.  Other birds taking advantage of the easy pickings at the feeders were hairy woodpeckers, scarlet tanagers, blue jays, and ruby-throated hummingbirds.  Hartwick Pines is a great location to see these two grosbeak species and a priority stop if you plan on visiting the Grayling area.  I’ll post an evening grosbeak soon.     

Top Image:  Nikon D300, Nikkor 500mm f4, 1/250 second @ f9, Tripod
Bottom Image:  Nikon D7000, Nikkor 500mm f4, 1/60 second @ f 4, Tripod

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