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Pine Grosbeak

Today Jon and I ventured outside of Salt Lake City all the way to the Uinta Mountains.  We went to Mirror Lake because I was on the hunt for some life birds.  Mirror Lake is gorgeous!

It’s located about 1.5 hours east of Salt Lake City.  The lake is above 10,000 feet.  We saw snow on the way to this mountain!  In fact, there is a picture of the same lake on July 3, 2011 on utahbirds.org and the lake is covered in snow!

The weather was very nice to cooperate.  On the way up the clouds were dark and ominous and on the way back it poured.

But after lunch I took a hike and the sun came out.  This was a good thing because I forgot to bring jackets and it was a cold.  Who knew it could be so cold in July.  It was a great day because I saw two new life birds.  At this point, I’m lucky to see a new bird in Utah once every six months.  So two was really exciting.  One of the life birds is the Pine Grosbeak.  Here’s the male.

If you look closely you can see that the upper beak comes to a curved point that ends over the lower beak.  The picture below is either a female or a juvenile.  The juveniles are supposed to look extra ragged, but both birds looked ragged.  She had her beak open a lot.  I couldn’t figure out why because she wasn’t singing and it wasn’t hot.

This was a very exciting find because I had no idea what they were until I scoured the internet for answers.  The female was acting a little like a baby because she kept chasing after the male and trying to make contact with him.  So perhaps she had her beak open because she was a juvenile and it’s some baby-like behavior?  I’m not sure.  They both spent awhile preening.

Later on there was an epic singing battle between the Pine Grosbeak and a White-crowned Sparrow.   I’m not sure who won, but there were three Pine Grosbeaks and only one sparrow, so the sparrow might have had to give up ground.

3 Responses to “Pine Grosbeak”

  1. Paragon2Pieces says:

    After teaching a LSAT game involving grosbeaks for nearly eight years, I am delighted to finally see what one looks like!

  2. You never know when it’s going to rain, snow, hail, or get cold in the High Uintas! I always bring waterproof jacket and down vest if I’m hiking there.
    Nice pics of the lake and of your birding finds.

  3. Elizabeth says:

    P2P, that’s so funny!

    Janie, yes I really need to store more hiking gear in my car. I felt so prepared at the beginning of the trip because I bought a cooler for our lunch. And then I forgot jackets!