The Day of the Grosbeaks

Today more than any other day, the feeders have been dominated by black-headed grosbeaks. When I say dominated, I mean dominated — all out claw-fighting, beak-scuffing, wing-swatting war. In the midst of it, I witnessed (and caught as a snapshot) a scene with 5 grosbeaks in view (3 males, 2 females). Here it is below:

[Image link at orphaned by, unfortunately.]

After this, I laid out a challenge: Capture an image with MORE than 5 grosbeaks in it. Since then, several more photos have been taken with 5 grosbeaks, but none have captured 6. Here is one with 5 I rather like:

[Image link at orphaned by, unfortunately.]

Kryptonkay writes that she saw 6 in view at once but had reached her limit for the day. Indeed, I too saw 6 in view this afternoon (4 males, 2 females) but had reached my limit. Thus, the challenge waits for another day.

The real question is: why all the grosbeaks all of a sudden? Did a wave of migrants come in with the 88 degree weather in SF today? Did the hot weather cause neighboring grosbeaks to fly in to areas of concentrated resources? We will have to wait and see if today’s high concentration lasts in the coming days.

2 Responses to “The Day of the Grosbeaks”

  1. elanus says:

    You know, I was actually wondering where all the grosbeaks had gone. There weren’t any at all on the day I was trying to do my “10 species in 10 photos” thing (and I really noticed, because I was counting on being able to include them). Looking back through the grosbeak photos, it looks like the last Black-headed Grosbeak photo prior to today was on Friday, May 4. There were no photos of them at all on Saturday and Sunday, and then today, bam! There were 239 photos of them.

    Here’s my theory: On Saturday all the Grosbeaks were in some bar getting drunk for Cinco de Mayo, and they got so hammered they had to spend all of Sunday sleeping it off.

    That’s great about the Grosbeak Challenge. I wonder if 5 is the all-time high for birds in a photo of any species? Hm. Maybe the pigeons on the roof would beat that; I seem to recall some photos with a pretty high pigeon count. But these grosbeak photos clearly have those beat in the “fun” department.

  2. morgan says:

    No grosbeaks over the weekend? How weird — I didn’t notice. Well, we are still in migration here in the Bay area, but I’d be really surprised if breeders hadn’t already shown up and established nearby territories. In other words, migration could explain fluctuations in numbers from 2 to 6, but 0 to 6?

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