Black-headed Grosbeak

This afternoon I was sitting where I could see out the back windows. Birds were flying by occasionally, and each time I checked closer, I saw a Varied Thrush. At one point I happened to look up and see a bird perched in an alder. It had a darkish head and orange brest, so my immediate thought was ‘another thrush’, but it only took a moment for reality to burst that thought, as I realized it did not have a dark band across its breast. My next thought was, ‘would you believe that?’ I had spent some time looking for Bramblings that were reported a couple of days ago. I was told they were pretty distinctive due to the orange coloring. I hadn’t bothered to look them up specifically, so when I saw this was an unusual bird with orange, I assumed that one of the Bramblings had showed up in my back yard. I grabbed my camera and looked out the back window but did not see it where it had been. I went outside and was able to relocate it just a few trees over. It moved around in that tree a couple of times, spent a little time preening, and appeared to eat something off of the alder branch, perhaps a small part of a branch or a bud? It was fairly high up in the tree, and I wanted to get a little better angle so I looked down to get a handle on something I was going to climb up, but when I looked back up it was gone. Shortly after that I heard a chickadee calling and several Varied Thrushes started coming up from the hill behind the house. I did not see the grosbeak again.

Black-headed Grosbeaks are considered Casual in Alaska. This is the second or third reported sighting in Sitka.

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