Crazy About Birds

By Kimb

Rose-breasted Grosbeak

My handsome friend the rose-breasted grosbeak is still here. And I noticed yesterday, and again today, that his wife is here with him! She looks completely different - all brown and white and grey stripy - she looks like a gigantic sparrow (with a very serious bill). I learned from my birding guru in the most recent of her blog posts that the male doesn't get his full grown up fancy plumage for several years! So this guy is at least 3 years old, probably older.

The older a male rose-breast gets, the more immaculate his coloration. Young males will show an admixture of brown in their black parts, especially on wings and head, and lots of speckling on the breast and flanks. "Some males may not acquire complete Definitive Alternate (what we plebes know as breeding) plumage until their third year or later. Smith (Smith 1966a) cites a single male that was banded as a yearling in 1961 and did not acquire a completely bright-pink bib until 1965."

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