Grosbeaks are seed-eating, colorful passerines with over-sized beaks. The USA has several species but I never thought I’d have the opportunity to see/photograph a YELLOW GROSBEAK. Only a handful of “YG”’s have been documented in Arizona and New Mexico since 1995. Never in Texas. But a friendly (anonymous) homeowner in Concan, Texas had alerted birding friends in early January that a large, bright yellow, finch-like bird was frequenting her feeder. It has been a consistent visitor for almost three months and I simply could not resist the chase.

Highway 90 (west of San Antonio)

A road-sign reminded me that THIS bird could be an escapee rather than wild but most feel that the Texas Birding Authorities will rule in listers’ favor. Hundreds of birders who have trekked to this remote southernmost part of Texas Hill Country will be pretty upset if this bird doesn’t count. Obviously, I am confident or I wouldn’t have spent three days traveling back and forth to Concan!

Location of Texas’s first YELLOW GROSBEAK!

Our local guide had instructed what turned out to be twelve (12) of us…from all over the country…to meet at Neal’s Lodge where we would consolidate our vehicles and caravan to the secret spot. While we hoped this bird would turn up as soon as we arrived…it just doesn’t work that way. We patiently waited inside the house and watched the numerous feeders outside in complete silence.

An hour passed and short conversations started but quickly stopped as we desperately tried to turn a goldfinch into a Yellow Grosbeak. Another hour passed and I actually spoke to the guy I had been rubbing elbows and hips with for two hours. A wildlife biologist from Charlotte, he had a USA life-list over 800. And he hadn’t even been to Hawaii. I was humbled. These were serious birders.

Thirty more minutes passed and I (proudly) noticed that I was literally the last one standing, as the others had taken seats in our generous hosts’ dining room chairs. I wondered if this was a minor endurance triumph related to years of riding NYC subways. Or perhaps standing for hours on boats whale-watching in the Bay of Fundy had given me an edge. Or was it the Bikram yoga? No, I countered to myself. This wasn’t a competition. I was simply polite, stupid or stubborn. Suddenly my peaceful daydream debate was shattered by several simultaneous exclamations: “That’s it”, “on the feeder”!!



High-fives, fist-pumps, hugs and sighs of relief & elation followed. Our hosts and guide smiled. A bunch of strangers united by a yellow bird.

About George C. Wood

A birder since age ten, but not necessarily an avid "lister", I am closing in on 700 (*800!) species seen in North America.....hoping to capture each sighting with my camera.
This entry was posted in Quest for 700 (*800!). Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to YELLOW GROSBEAK!

  1. jjshaws says:

    I hope you are printing all these posts and putting them together in a book – they are priceless! Miss you! Xoxo, Jeanie . . . sent from my iPhone


  2. Andrew Mozino says:

    George. You should see the rare feathered friends I see after a night at Sloppy Joe’s in Key West

    Sent from my iPhone


  3. Tom M says:

    Terrific bird and story; hope this bird “counts” for you.

  4. Jay Bennett says:

    Beautiful bird

    Sent from my T-Mobile 4G LTE Device

  5. Joe Knowles says:

    Code Five bird! Nicely done, George

  6. chasscrew says:


    Sent from my iPhone


  7. James Buck says:

    Another conquest, Woody! Meanwhile, you didn’t finish the story…. What did you all do AFTER the sighting? Did champagne flow? Was there a mass rush to your cars (or, remind me, was this where you all had shuttled to, together)? Anti-climactic as you think about getting back to your regularly scheduled program?! Again, congrats on this beauty!

    • Thanks Jimbo! We did stay and chat for a bit but realizing the homeowners were probably tired of guests, we caravanned back to Neal’s Lodge and several of us ate lunch together. I did NOT miss any of the Fightins’….it was a FRIDAY:) Congratulations to you and organization….undefeated in March!! Let’s keep it going.

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