Grosbeak Quintet

Happy 1-year grosbeak quintet anniversary to me.

May 31, 2021 was unforgettable: my first (and possibly only) time of seeing five different grosbeaks on the same day. And though my featured photo above shows five Evening Grosbeaks, that’s not the quintet I’m referring to.

No, May 31, 2021 held encounters with 5 different species of grosbeaks.

Up until a few days prior, I wasn’t even aware of the possibility of that ever happening in Colorado. We are fortunate to regularly observe Black-headed and Blue Grosbeaks in the summer, Rose-breasted Grosbeaks occasionally during migration, and Evening Grosbeaks whenever their need to roam widely for food arises, but I had never seen all four species in a single day (Pine Grosbeaks also occur in our state, but are harder to come across). Whereas one could make a conscious effort to find them in their respective habitat, it hadn’t crossed my mind to try to find as many grosbeaks in a day as possible.

Nor did I set out to do so on that particular May date one year ago. Until that last week of the month, I had been ignorant of the existence of yet another grosbeak species—Yellow Grosbeaks. Typically at home in Mexico, occasional vagrants visit Arizona or, more seldom, other southern US states, and that spring, one had made an excursion into Colorado, where it was spotted in someone’s “back yard.”

News of rare avian sightings spread quickly via social media nowadays, and when I kept noticing online alerts about the bird’s continued presence, I couldn’t ignore them. I “chase” rare species only occasionally and am mindful of the distances and difficulties involved in trying to find them. But as I might never have another occasion to see this bird in Colorado (or elsewhere), I made the relatively straightforward 80-mile one-way trip to Huerfano County south of Colorado Springs, where the incredibly generous and welcoming owner of a beautiful property in a natural setting welcomed hundreds of birders from across Colorado and even some other states over the course of the grosbeak’s presence, which lasted for nearly a week.

The proprietor welcomes birds by offering a wide array of feeders filled with seeds, suet, fruit, and nectar, and so it happened on that fateful day that I was able not only to add the resplendent Yellow Grosbeak to my life list, but also to observe a Black-headed and a Blue Grosbeak partake of the well-stocked buffet. After returning home, as I was smilingly entering my checklist on eBird at my desk, there was much activity at the feeders outside the window. Imagine my widening smile when a Rose-breasted Grosbeak’s appearance was followed by that of several Evening Grosbeaks, all stopping by for a sunflower seed snack that very evening, making this already special day even more memorable by gifting me my first-ever grosbeak quintet.

Black-headed Grosbeak, male (Pheucticus melanocephalus)/Schwarzkopf-Kernknacker

Blue Grosbeak, male (Passerina caerulea)/Azurbischof

The star performer: Yellow Grosbeak (Pheucticus chrysopeplus)/Gelbkopf-Kernknacker

Rose-breasted Grosbeak, male (Pheucticus ludovicianus)/Rosenbrust-Kernknacker

Evening Grosbeak, male (Coccathraustes vespertinus)/Abendkernbeißer. The featured photo at the top of the page shows both males (more colorful) and females (less colorful) of the species.  In the spirit of full disclosure, the photos of the Evening Grosbeaks were not taken on May 31.

Another thank-you, Gib and family, for being such gracious and generous hosts to birds and birders alike.

52 thoughts on “Grosbeak Quintet

    • Thank you, Peter. I have been enjoying getting to know one grosbeak species after the other. There are so many more worldwide, but unless I travel far and wide, I might not meet any new ones. But I will always cherish the ones I have introduced here.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Mr. P. These kinds of days are particularly special because they are so unexpected.
      I wish I had the technical ability to arrange all the bird photos in a fan pattern in order to show all the gorgeous colours you commented on. 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  1. How neat! They’re so colorful. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen one of these, let alone five. But now I know what they look like should I encounter one in the future.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Tanja, I admire people, who have the patience to shoot pictures of birds, particularly because I cannot do it like you as I’m always too busy. Thank you for the beautiful photos. Cheers, Uwe

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I had no idea there were other than the Rose-breasted Grosbeak. What a wonderful experience, to see all these — and how wonderful that someone was willing to open his property to give the gift of a sighting to so many birders.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It has taken several years to become familiar with all the different grosbeaks, Linda. And without the willingness of the owner of the property, where the rare Yellow Grosbeak was discovered, to share his discovery with so many birders, many of us would have never seen one.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Please forgive me for the late response, Andrea, your message ended up in the spam folder and I found it only today.

      I have often wished I could count someone else’s bird sightings for my own life list, so I’m completely fine with it if you would like to go ahead. 😊


    • Ich danke Dir, liebe Brigitte. Entschuldige bitte die späte Antwort, aber Dein Kommentar landete im Spamordner, wo ich sie erst heute gefunden habe.
      Ich hoffe, Dein Pfingsten war nett, wenn es auch schon über eine Woche her ist.
      Lieben Gruß,

      Liked by 1 person

  4. That Blue Grosbeak is stunning. One we haven’t seen in our territory. I’m envious! Other than the Steller (Stellar?) Jays, we don’t seem to get any *blue* birds here and they can get to be a bit of a nuisance at times. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Gunta. I also love seeing Blue Grosbeaks and blue birds in general. Steller’s (named for George Steller of sea cow fame) and other jays are common here as well, as are two different kinds of bluebirds, so regularly get to enjoy blue feathered beings.


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