Vermont has been invaded by mysterious flying objects! They’re not aliens, although they might look unfamiliar to many. They’re Pine Grosbeaks. These medium-sized, parrot-like birds breed hundreds of miles to our north, and don’t venture south every year. In fact, over the past two years (2010 & 2011), only four Pine Grosbeak sightings were reported in Vermont eBird. But in the past two weeks, there have been dozens of sightings in every corner of the state.
It is thought that Pine Grosbeaks travel south in winters when their favorite food, fruit, is in short supply on their breeding grounds. They are most easily found in fruiting trees such as ornamental cherry and crabapples. In addition to their vibrant colors, these birds are easily observed because of their audacity around humans: they will often tolerate our presence, feeding along busy downtown streets.
If you haven’t seen this bird already this fall, there is a good chance you will. All sightings can be reported to eBird or directly to the North Branch Nature Center.