The American Birding Association just announced the 2012 Bird of the Year– the Evening Grosbeak. Evening Grosbeaks used to be fairly common in Pennsylvania back in the 1980’s before I was a birder. Evening Grosbeaks populations fluctuate with spruce budworm outbreaks and populations have declined as the effort to control spruce budworms has expanded. They are irruptive migrants and their lower population numbers have meant they are only rare visitors to the state, often showing up in just a couple isolated spots across the state each year.
Evening Grosbeaks are pretty large birds and are known for their ability to empty a tray feeder of large amounts of sunflower seeds in minutes, especially when they are around in their typical large flocks. Evening Grosbeaks have a loud ringing call, which to my ears sounds similar to House Sparrows when the grosbeaks are calling in a flock.
I personally have only seen a single Evening Grosbeak. It was at Glacier National Park in Montana, back in 2005 when Justine was working there. Alex on the other hand has had great looks at Evening Grosbeaks and has shared some of his photos below.
If you are an ABA member, you should look for the next issue of Birding which will feature Evening Grosbeaks, and will also have stickers to put on your binoculars. If you aren’t a member yet, what are you waiting for? Head to the ABA site to become a member!