Migrant Rose-breasted Grosbeaks still flying north

It’s been 4 years since I last wrote a post for this very beautiful migrant from North America. At that time of writing it was November and large numbers had already arrived in Costa Rica. I did not comment on its status in our village of San Antonio on the Turrialba Volcano slope. My records show it as a very regular migrant for our immediate area, with an earliest arrival date of October 3 and latest departure April 10.

Male Rose-breasted Grosbeak (Pheucticus ludovicianus) a little lower down the volcano slope at Santa Rosa; courtesy of John Beer

John’s most recent pic of a male, above, shows the blood-red throat colour that gives it its Spanish name of degollado (slit throat). This grosbeak is often seen in small groups. With its huge bill even the female is easily identifiable:

Female Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Santa Rosa; photo by John Beer

Immature males are brown and streaked like the female but often some trace of reddish pink can be noted. Confusion is likely only with the female Black-headed Grosbeak (Pheucticus melanocephalus), another migrant from the north that appears sporadically in Costa Rica in some years. There is, however, only one eBird record (1993, San Jose) for the latter being sighted even remotely close to our location. Hybrids of the two species are also possible but none recorded to my knowledge in Costa Rica since hybridisation normally occurs where the ranges overlap, i.e. in the Great Plains of North America.

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