They’re In The Maples!

Evening grosbeak (photo by Marcy Cunkelman)

This was it. If I was going to see an evening grosbeak it had to be this winter while they’re irrupting across Pennsylvania.  I missed them at Marcy Cunkelman’s (above), but flocks of 40 to 80 are reported every day at Dave Yeany’s feeders in Marienville.  Last Sunday I made the 2+ hour trip to see them.

Before I left I studied the sound and appearance of these beautiful birds and learned that their call resembles the chirp of a house sparrow (Click here to hear.  If that link doesn’t work, try this one).

When I arrived at 7:30am I heard loud chirps like a house sparrow who’d taken voice lessons.  Close by I saw and heard a real house sparrow.  Aha!  The grosbeaks were here but I couldn’t see them.

I crossed the street to view Yeany’s feeders but there were no grosbeaks there nor in any of the trees.  Another car pulled up.  Surprise!  Fellow birders Tom and Nancy Moeller from Pittsburgh.

Dave Yeany came out to say hello and assured us the grosbeaks would come in at 8:00am.  They would start in the spruce, then settle in the maples, then come to the feeders.  So we waited.

Sure enough at 8:00am the grosbeaks came to the spruce.  Yay! Life birds at last!  But the light was poor.  Rain was coming.  We wanted to see them closer.  We waited.  By 8:30am the grosbeaks landed in the maples but something spooked them and they flew away.  No!

We had come this far and couldn’t bear to leave without seeing the grosbeaks at the feeders.  It began to rain so we retreated to Moellers’ car. It was nice to be waiting with friends.

When the rain subsided at 9:00am we found 40+ evening grosbeaks in the maples preening and nibbling the buds.  They fluttered down level by level.  At last they came to the feeders.  Here, Tom Moeller captured them surrounding a starling.

Evening grosbeaks surround a starling at the feeder (photo by Tom Moeller)

Thanks to Dave Yeany’s hospitality and advice we waited for the grosbeaks to come to the maples.  Our surprise was that the grosbeaks like to eat sugar maple buds.

People like maple products, too.  Dave Yeany has acres of sugar maples that he taps to create pure Pennsylvania maple syrup.  If you visit when he isn’t home you can buy it from the red cupboard on his front porch.

We had the advantage of chatting with Dave and learning about his additional maple products.  I couldn’t resist the maple cream which I’d never tried before.  It looks like honey butter and it tastes great.  Mmmmmmm! Good!

Yeany’s Maple Cream. Mmmmmm! Good! (photo by Kate St. John)

If you visit Dave Yeany’s evening grosbeaks you’ll find a big flock of beautiful birds and a sweet treat at the end.  In the meantime you can “like” Yeany’s Maple Syrup on Facebook.

(Male evening grosbeak by Marcy Cunkelman, Nov 2012.  Flock at the tray feeder by Tom Moeller, 2 Dec 2012.  Photo of Yeany’s delicious maple cream by Kate St. John)

3 thoughts on “They’re In The Maples!

  1. My male Grosbeak was in the maple tree too…they also like to eat the seeds of ash and tuliptrees. This is how we used to see them when I was little in the late 60s and 70s and again in the late 80s and early 90s…Once you hear their call, you can’t forget it, even if it’s been over 10 years…Maple cream looks great…maybe that will help to pay for the many pounds of food needed to keep feeding these guys….so glad you got your LIFER!!! By the way, it feels and sounds like spring…a male Bluebird was guarding the birdbox from the male house sparrow. So glad to see the sunshine….enjoy the day..

  2. When I was in college at the University of California, Santa Cruz, during several winters I found Evening Grosbeaks feeding in box elders along the San Lorenzo River in Henry Cowell State Park. Box elders are maples! Ever since, I have associated Evening Grosbeaks with maples.

  3. I could sure go for some of that maple cream on my toast this morning, Kate.

    Love those grosbeaks on the feeder.

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