Rose-breasted Grosbeak

Rose-breasted Grosbeak by George Payne
© George Payne
Pheucticus ludovicianus
The male "rosebird," as it is often called, is black and white except for a prominent patch of rose red in the center of its breast that extends beneath the wings and is therefore partly concealed except when the bird flies or flutters to another perch. The large conical bill is white, unless it happens to be stained by the juices of berries or wild fruits that form the chief items in this bird's diet. The female is grayish brown above and has a buffy line through the center of the crown, a brownish ear patch, and a whitish line over the eye; the wing coverts are saffron yellow (not lemon yellow as in the female Black-headed Grosbeak); the underparts are buffy, streaked with grayish brown. Immatures are similar to the adult female but are even more buffy and more profusely streaked below.
The Rose-breasted Grosbeak is a fairly common and regular spring transient in northern Louisiana that is also occasionally numerous on the coastal ridges but only rarely observed in the intervening area. Its passage takes place mainly from the middle of April to the middle of May. In fall it is moderately common throughout the state, from the last of September until the beginning of November. An occasional individual sometimes remains throughout the winter, when the species has been recorded from 11 localities, as follows: Shreveport, Monroe, Lafayette, Baton Rouge, Thibodaux, Reserve, New Orleans, Gretna, Hackberry, Cameron and Grand Isle.
The species seldom sings while in migration through the state, but should it be heard to do so, its song would remind the listener of an American Robin. Heard more often is the sharp metallic kick that serves as its call note.
The famous Swedish zoologist, Linnaeus, who devised the system of nomenclature that we use today, is accredited with making the Rose-breasted Grosbeak known to science. Linnaeus, however, based his technical diagnosis on an earlier drawing and description by the French ornithologist, Brisson, who called it Le Grosbec de la Louisiane. --George H. Lowery, Jr., 1974, Louisiana Birds

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