All about the blue grosbeak

  • <p>JAMES HIRTLE PHOTO</p><p>A blue grosbeak spotted in Dublin Shore on Oct. 23.</p>

I was pleased to find two blue grosbeaks along the Bell Cove Road in Dublin Shore on Oct. 23.

This is a species that, if I'm lucky, I get to see only once a year. They nest from California to Nevada, Utah, Colorado, east to South Dakota and New Jersey, and south to Costa Rica. The blue grosbeak winters from California into Mexico and along the Pacific coast to Central America and the West Indies, south to Costa Rica.

The blue grosbeak is 15 to 18.75 cm long. The male is almost entirely a deep, rich blue with a heavy conical grosbeak bill. There are two rusty-brown bars on each wing. The female is dull brown with buffy wing bars.

Their diet is largely of insects grasshoppers and weevils, May beetles, squash bugs, caterpillars, cutworms, cicadas and also of snails, spiders, grain, weed seeds and wild fruit.

A nice find for Steven Morris of Second Peninsula on Oct. 24 was a yellow-billed cuckoo. On Oct. 27, Tom Marrie discovered a great egret at Blandford. On the same day, Barbara McLean saw five ruby-crowned kinglets at Second Peninsula. She also reported five buffleheads along the Silver Point Road. These were the first ones that I had reported to me since last winter.

On Oct. 29, Barbara and I saw a group of 40 of these birds at First Peninsula. We also discovered a yellow-breasted chat along the Back Harbour Road, close to the entrance to First Peninsula. There were a few yellow-rumped warblers at First Peninsula on that day as well.

On Oct. 30, Janet Corkum of Lunenburg put out her window feeder. She had a pine warbler show up right away. Last winter she had three of these birds and they have been present every winter since 2018. Sue Kashanski of Garden Lots counted 24 black scoters when they made their annual fall visit to the waters just off of Nauss Head on Oct. 29. On Oct. 31 a red-bellied woodpecker was still present at the residence of Barbara McLean of Lunenburg.

On Oct. 26, Steve McGrath visited the Beacon Street Dam in Cape Breton and saw four ruddy ducks, two redheads and a Hudsonian godwit. On Oct. 27, while visiting the old town dump in Halifax, Dominic Cormier saw a blue grosbeak. Andy Horn went to the Fort Needham Park in Halifax on that day and discovered a rose-breasted grosbeak and a yellow-billed cuckoo.

Another yellow-billed cuckoo was seen by Ray W. at the beach at Harlen Point. On Oct. 27 a grey-cheeked thrush was found at the Fairview Cemetery by Jason Dain. Diane LeBlanc watched a large fly by of black-legged kittiwates off of Chebucto Head.

On Oct. 28, Ray W. saw a field sparrow at Chebucto Head. Nic Fieldsend reported a yellow-throated warbler at Alderney Landing. Rita Viau photographed a western kingbird at the Sackville Greenway on that very same day.

Oct. 29 was a good day. Paolo Matteucci discovered a blue-grey gnatcatcher at Sullivan's Pond in Dartmouth. An ovenbird was found at the Fairview Cemetery by Kyle Shay. Chebucto Head produced a clay-colored sparrow for Lori Bulman. Mike Jones was visiting at the Sackville River Park and saw two yellow-breasted chats.

At the Antigonish sewage lagoons, Mike Melchin was pleased to discover a redhead. Simon d'Entremont saw two sandhill cranes at Mavillette on that day. At Clam Point on Cape Sable Island, Mark Dennis reported an orange-crowned warbler, a pine warbler, a pied-billed grebe and a Baltimore oriole. Richard Donaldson saw a winter wren at Lower Argyle and Andrea L Drake discovered four cattle egrets in Greenwhich.

Eric Mills reported a greater white-fronted goose at Lower Truro on Oct. 30 and on that day Mark Dennis had two field sparrows at Heameon's Head.

Oct. 31 produced a yellow-billed cuckoo for Angela MacDonald at Walter Cover in Antigonish County. Eric Mills discovered a pied-billed grebe at Snide's Pond at Shubenacadie. Zach Wile found a cattle egret in Amherst. On Cape Sable Island at Baker's Flats Mark Dennis reported five ruddy ducks.

You may reach me at (902) 693-2174 or email jrhbirder@hotmail.com

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