Due to time constraints and the onset of harsh winter weather that tends to hide species from view (it is snowing as I type), I have decided to cut back on my daily blogging. I will try to continue to post whenever I encounter a new species. I don’t expect to find any more Wyoming wildflowers this year, but perhaps there are a few more birds and mammals that I can yet blog about.
For instance: the pine grosbeak, Pinicola enucleator. On a recent, surprisingly warm, snowless hike in the Snowy Range I saw a flash of red fly into a nearby spruce tree. At first I thought it was a red crossbill, but I managed to snap a photo of the bright bird and on closer inspection it appears to have the large, finchy bill and white wingbars of the pine grosbeak.
While the males have distinctive red plumage–sort of like extra-large house finches—females and juveniles are more subdued with yellow, orange or even olive green touches. The photo of the female to the left was also taken in the Snowy Range, but during the summer. I have also encountered grosbeaks in Glacier National Park, MT.
These birds can sometimes appear fairly tame, allowing people to come quite close. The female that I encountered did not seem very concerned about me taking pictures. Pine grosbeaks can often be easily overlooked since they can remain very still instead of drawing attention to themselves by abruptly flying up.
This is another hardy species that stays in Wyoming year round. One more bird to look for on winter excursions!