Currently, rose-breasted grosbeaks are passing through Georgia on their spring migration home to their breeding grounds. During this special time of the year, we are treated with the opportunity to see what is perhaps the most beautiful bird that graces our feeders—the male rose-breasted grosbeak.

       The bird is adorned with bold black and white plumage. The undersides of its wings are rose pink. If that isn’t enough to dazzle your eyes, he also sports a brilliant red triangle emblazoned on its white breast.

       At first glance, all adult male rose-breasted grosbeaks appear to be identical. However, if you look more closely, you will realize that you can actually tell one from another.

     In order to accomplish this seemingly impossible task, focus your attention on the red triangle emblazoned on the breast of each male. It will quickly become apparent that each marking varies in size, shape, and brightness.

       This will enable you to determine how many males are using your backyard as well as how long individual birds linger before resuming their migration.


  1. I had 3 males stop by a few days ago. The 1st one I ever saw was last year, and I recognized him from pictures, never dreaming I would actually see one. They are so beautiful. Also, when I saw the three, I thought their breast color looked a little different on each, and am glad to know I was not seeing things! Thank you for this wonderful article.

    • College Park GA, First I had a few males and one female… the next day it doubled and now I have about 15 males and 4-6 females. It is too many for my 3 feeders that I have sunflower seeds in. They even go after my suet until one of my few woodpeckers come around. They co-exist, well equally quarrel, with my Cardinals and my House Wrens get a few bites but only a few small birds are brave and fast enough to still go to the feeders. Kind of a bummer so I’m gonna try a squirrel guard feeder that might keep the Grosbeaks and Cardinals out. They are just taking over too much! Sorry to those of you who long to see them…

      • Mike,

        That is amazing. You have the most grosbeaks I have heard about this spring. A fellow in Ohio reported the birds eat grape jelly. This year for the first time they ate sunflower seeds, peanut butter suet and mealworm cake.


      • Mine have all moved on… maybe 2 weeks ago since the last few were still here…
        Not to be sassy but I didn’t find them gentle at all… with so many and only 3 feeders they seemed to fight with each other and act very possessive while feeding… maybe establishing a pecking order early on or trying to impress the females… my seed bill has gone way down since they headed north. nice looking birds though… I’m from MI but I had never seen them there…

    • Martha,

      I am so happy you got to see birds this year. Many years we don’t see many passing through. Whenever I see them it is special.


  2. i enjoy all your blogs .this helps gratly on grosbeaks. we have one or more at our feederfor the last 6 days here in hazlehurst.thanks for your time to do this wayne ussery

    • Wayne,

      It is good to hear from you. It is interesting to see how many places are visited by the grosbeaks when they are heading north.


    • Brad,

      It is amazing the variations in the amount of red that appears on males. Based on this, I know I fed at least three males this year. I was happy to have them. Some years I do not see any.


  3. Just found your blog and am enjoying your insights and photos. We are fortunate enough to live in rb grosbeak’s breeding area, NE Ohio. Love these gentle, beautiful birds. We have 3 breeding pairs this year and spotted many more young males during spring migration. Males and females are both a little snippy during courtship, but soon settle down. Their song is so joyful to hear. Am always a bit sad when it’s time for them to head back to winter grounds. Oh, and they like to frequent the Oriole feeder for a grape jelly snack.

    • Chris,

      It is good to hear from you. I have a cousin that lives in Massachusetts. He tells me the grosbeaks are quite tame when the return. He has a window feeder and the birds feed while he has his face up against the window. It seems folks everywhere truly love this bird.Terry

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