A Rosie Result

by Calah Beckwith
Wildlife Keeper

Remember the Hairy Woodpecker who needed some VINS TLC after hitting a window? Well, unfortunately, that’s an all too common cause of admission for avian rehab patients. Striking a window at full speed can cause bone fractures, head or spinal trauma, internal bleeding, and often death.

We recently admitted a male Rose-breasted Grosbeak who struck a window and sustained severe internal injuries. He had raspy, gurgling breath sounds, and we could see blood in his mouth. He hadn’t sustained any other injuries, but internal trauma can be very difficult to recover from. We gave him homeopathic medications to treat general trauma and internal bleeding as well as a medication to help with inflammation and pain. Despite his injury, the grosbeak had a feisty attitude and a good appetite – both very good signs. 

Luckily, as with the Hairy Woodpecker, the Rose-breasted Grosbeak’s story has a happy ending. It only took three days for the grosbeak to make a full recovery. Watch this video of the grosbeak’s return to the wild.

Photo by Ellen & Tony, this is for the birds

The Rose-breasted Grosbeak is a member of the cardinal family, which includes the Scarlet Tanager, Indigo Bunting, and Northern Cardinal, among others. They have a beautifully sweet song, similar to that of an American Robin, but so perfect and clear it’s as though they’ve had opera lessons. Rose-breasted grosbeak females are members of a very elite group of singing ladies. Most female songbirds do not sing songs to attract a mate or defend a territory, but the female rose-breasted grosbeak has been known to sing and will often exchange quiet songs with her mate.

Photo by mytimemachine

Males of the species are terrific fathers, assisting with nest-building, incubation of eggs and nestlings, and feeding of babies. And they look as though they’re headed to a fancy party, sporting a brilliant red ascot and black and white tuxedo. Females are streaked brown all over with a white stripe over the eyes.

If you’re lucky, you may have Rose-breasted Grosbeaks visit your feeders. Though they eat a lot of insects and berries, they do eat seed, including sunflower and safflower. And remember, whether you’re feeding the birds or just enjoying those who make your yard home, you can help keep them safe around windows by following this advice from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.     


  1. Anonymous on October 28, 2015 at 4:13 pm

    Learned two things- the singing and being a member of the Cardinal Family. Thank you!
    I have window alerts on our sliding glass door and front door. We've had some casualties and since applying they work perfectly. Great investment from the Nature Store.

Leave a Comment