I have had a flock of 20-30 Pine Grosbeaks this winter at the feeders. But now there are only about 6 coming to the feeders and they are all females.
Pine Grosbeak female
As with many birds, the males migrant to the breeding grounds first. They set up territories and wait for the females to arrive. That might be the case with the Pine Grosbeaks. Most all of them have left northern Minnesota by March 15th. It’s a sure sign of spring, even though there might still be lots of snow on the ground and a chill in the air. It seems the Pine Grosbeaks go entirely by length of day to determine their migration patterns.
Here in northern Minnesota there are 2 species of Crossbill. The White-winged Crossbill and the Red Crossbill
The male in both species is colored red. The White-winged is more of a rosy red while the Red Crossbill is more of a brick red. Both species have the distinctive crossed bill which they use to extract seeds from the cones of conifer trees.
The females are not red, but are mostly a rusty greenish, yellow color. There are many variations in the females and first year males.
Did you know there are 10 types of Red Crossbill in North America?
The Cornell Lab of Ornithology is studying the different types and they asked for people to send in recordings of the birds calls. I was lucky enough the other day to find a flock of Red Crossbills when I was on the Crane Lake Road driving to town, I used the video on my phone to make the recording. It came out pretty good. Ignore the Blue Jay that is calling in the background.