Here’s a photo I took last spring of a male Pine Grosbeak. I had set up a couple of feeders around the Shack and these gorgeous birds would come in every day and have a good ole time. Other regular visitors to the buffet were Black-capped and Boreal Chickadees, Common Redpolls, Hairy and Downy Woodpeckers, Gray Jays and, of course, the effervescent Red Squirrel. Ravens came by, from time to time, but rarely dropped down to the feeder. The Pine Grosbeaks were my favorite though.
The grosbeaks are actually a finch, the largest of the boreal finches. A group of these birds together is called, wait for it, a ‘gross’ of grosbeaks. They’re such a cool bird, and very tolerant of my puttering around the cabin; they’d generally ignore my comings and goings.
I grabbed a small white spruce sapling that some snow-machiners had run over and destroyed, and used it to set up the perch. For a background I hung a fleece blanket up and positioned it for a nice clean background. It’s a little bit ‘contrived’, but hopefully it works OK.
It was pretty amazing to see how quickly the birds learned of a new food source. Within a couple of hours of setting up the feeder birds were chomping down. I was able to keep the feeder squirrel free for a month or so, but soon enough the little fellow’s persistence paid off, and I had to reconfigure the setup. After a little while I just set up 2 feeders, far enough apart that the squirrel could feed at whichever one he chose and would tolerate the birds eating from the other one. He’d get pretty defensive if saw anything else eating ‘his’ supper. He regularly chased away Snowshoe hares that were easily 4 or 5 times larger than himself when they came by in the evening. I even heard one story, from a neighbor, of a red squirrel chasing a least weasel off a snowshoe hare carcass it had only just killed. That’s pretty darn awesome!
It was pretty cool to have the same birds drop by every day, and watch them closely. I came to recognize a few of the individuals, but no more than maybe 3 or 4. This male was pretty bold, and would approach readily if I ventured outside with some seed. The birds hung around through the coldest months, but pretty much disappeared by the end of March.
I hope to get back out to the park soon, and will see if I can find this guy hanging around the neighborhood.