‘Shoes & Brews at Sunset Hill - Winter Bird Sightings!

On our walk Saturday some of our group saw two great winter birds - pine grosbeak and northern shrike. Both were near Sunset Hill Road.

Below you’ll find some info as well as photos of both the pine grosbeak and Northern shrike. If you want to hear about more bird sightings sign up for our Bird Alert by clicking here or on the button above.

A typical place for a pine grosbeak - munching on last year’s crabapples. Usually they’re in flocks.

A typical place for a pine grosbeak - munching on last year’s crabapples. Usually they’re in flocks.

pine grosbeak

Flocks of pine grosbeaks have been in the area all winter. They are here from farther north, coming to find food. They are chunky birds, usually in flocks, and make a delicate twitter sound. They like to stay high in the trees, but they’ll come to the shorter crabapple trees to feed. They’ll also come to your feeder. They are friendly -  often you can walk right up to them and they stay put. 

Northern shrike shreds prey with its hooked beak. Lacking talons, it’s known to impale prey (like mice) on thorns or barbed wire fences.

Northern shrike shreds prey with its hooked beak. Lacking talons, it’s known to impale prey (like mice) on thorns or barbed wire fences.

Northern Shirke

The northern shrike looks like a mockingbird on steroids. We saw one fly across a field below Sunset Hill Road, and then perch high in a lone tree. The flight pattern, behavior on perching, its size and color - all were clues. Then it kindly landed close enough to see its gray/black pattern, to confirm the sighting. If it had been closer, or if we had binoculars, we would have seen its distinctive heavy black hooked bill - suitable for tearing its prey.