Tuesday, July 7, 2015

The Scarlet

Our neighbor, a Pennslyvanian by birth with farmer cred and a seasoned Three Rivers Parks employee, mentioned a few month's back that our woods was the only woods in the area where he had seen a Scarlet Tanager, Piranga olivacea. I took note. 

Now that spring has long past us, we've taken to having coffee on the screened, back porch in the morning. Much to our surprise, and with great luck, the scarlet bird flitted onto the old bird feeder, derelict as it is near the red oak that once supported it. I learned early on not to sit with a camera for just these surprises as I may not accomplish much else. Unlike many of the creatures that surprise us here, the tanager didn't flee, even as I pried open the swollen stuck screen door to take his picture. 

My compact Olympus quickly came to life for a few shots as the Tanager ascended to safer heights. Although perched rather distant for a limited zoom and small sensor, it is evidence enough. 

The black wing contrasts well with the brilliant red body, possibly one of the most stunningly colored birds of the Eastern Forest. Our visitor stayed in the surrounding trees long enough to clue us into his call, a blurred chirrup that sounds a bit like a coarse robin's call. 

Now we'll know when they are in town, by sound if not by sight. The Scarlet Tanager visits only for the breeding season, for which the male erupts into scarlet feathers, then shifts back into an olive and black coloration, something more suitable, maybe, for a winter in South America.


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