Summer Comes Early

I want to start with remembering all those that are serving, have served and on the day we officially honor them, those that have paid the ultimate sacrifice so we can continue to live the values instilled in this country by our founding fathers. Those that have given their lives in combat and the families that have lived/live with that sacrifice shall never be forgotten.

Last post I featured a feathered friend that Ron was able to check off this year …and more importantly… one I’m still missing in my “Average Year” efforts (link here – still not updated). I also noted there was a plan for me to claw back some points. Last Friday Linda and I went to Havana IL and successfully tinned a few sure things. Specifically the Western Kingbird (Link here – why they nest there I have no clue) and the Eurasian Tee Sparrow (link here). Note, if you want to see a limited region for a bird, check out that European Tree Sparrow – basically a small blotch in IL (link here).

Summer Tanager found at Shell Mounds on Dauphin Island in April 2021

Even managed to get 2 more +1s for the year on the way home that Ron didn’t have ..well, yet. Not that I am competitive or anything (wink), but was feeling pretty good gaining +4 on him. Then opportunity knocked. Brothers and I decided to meet mom’s house to start the long process of cleaning it out. This meant Ron would be traveling down perilously close to Havana on his way to the house. My warnings that the birds had already left for the summer were ignored (no trust ha). Sure enough, he stopped by there and picked up 3 of the 4 Friday tallies. Well, that euphoria didn’t even make it past the long weekend.

So, like the previous post, bringing you another red hued bird.

In contrast to the last post, Ron DOES NOT have this Tanager checked off for this year. It is still a few weeks off from the season, but rather than wait, bringing you summer early! A male Summer Tanager to be exact. The official check for this year came while we were down in southern Texas during January. Ron probably missed getting it by maybe 20 minutes thanks to having to head to the airport to catch his flight home. While he had to sit in the airport lobby, Linda and I headed back to the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) in Brownsville. There was a rarity we were chasing there before he had to take him to the airport. I’ll cover that hunt in an upcoming post. For today, just note I managed to tin the Summer Tanager while I was there (and the rarity, but shhhhhh, don’t tell anyone yet).

Hit the jump to continue reading about Ron’s missing check

Summer Tanager found at Shell Mounds on Dauphin Island in April 2021

The pictures from that Texas trip have not been processed yet (I know, I know, although, in my defense, there was over a terabyte of images taken during that month). Instead, I’m going with a sighting both Ron and I had the previous year on Dauphin Island.

Summer Tanager found at Shell Mounds on Dauphin Island in April 2021

A quick confession. I had all these images processed and ready to go over a month ago. While prepping for the post I realized the coloring was waaay off. They looked more like Scarlet Tanagers than the duller Summer variety. I have two monitors on my desk – one I use for processing for prints and one for the web. Our professional photo printer tends to lower color saturations so the second monitor is amped up to compensate for it. Guessing I inadvertently processed on the wrong monitor. Tossed all those images (well, actually saved them in case I ever decide to print them) and reworked them. I try my best to keep the integrity of the bird for my audience. These look much better although the early shots may still be a titch too bright. The next two are dead on.

Summer Tanager found at Shell Mounds on Dauphin Island in April 2021

The shot above also reveals a hint of the yellowish coloring the males lose during their molt to the red breeding plumage. Check out the middle of the wing. I’ll have a post on the female and juvi Summers coming soon, so you will get a feel for their transition. The next shot is a good representation of their deeper/darker red hue versus the more brilliant Scarlet in the previous post. – this also happens to be one of my favorite shots of this species.

Summer Tanager found at Shell Mounds on Dauphin Island in April 2021

The good thing is you really do not have to go all the way to Texas to see this bird. They will migrate further north during breeding season – mostly into the Midwest. We had a couple show up in our woods about a week ago. Waiting for Ron to make a surprise visit any day ha! According to Cornell, the male Summer is the only completely red colored bird in North America. I never even noticed that in all the encounters I’ve had with this species – no black wings like the Scarlet and no black highlights like the Cardinal (link here). They are a welcome visitor to our woods as they are experts at snagging bees and wasps out of the air – those aggressive ground bees have been absolutely out of control here the last couple of years and have welted me up something terrible while working on the lot. Not to be outdone in the brutality category by Shrikes, the Tanager will beat the hell out of its prey on a branch before scrapping the stinger off and popping it down like popcorn. I only have one Tanager left to check off my life list – the Hepatic. Will have to head down to NM or AZ to get that taken care of.

Hope you enjoyed today’s featured feathered friend. Have I mentioned that Ron doesn’t have this checked off yet…no!?!… well, guess what.. Ron doesn’t have this gorgeous bird checked for the current year – nope, nosiree hehehe.

We head out to the Canine Performance Events (CPE) Invitational Nationals soon. Raven has to run against the big boys – wish him luck. Will probably be a bit spotty on responses and posts during this time. Apologies in advance if I am delayed in getting back to you.

22 thoughts on “Summer Comes Early”

  1. Beautiful Tanager. We have the red/orange tanagers out here but they are super shy. I don’t get to photograph them very often. Super photos.

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    1. That must be the Western Tanager – I managed to get that thanks to attending a wedding in Lake Tahoe – I must say, those Westerns are absolutely gorgeous as well – them Tanagers got lucky when they were handing out the colors. They are definitely shy and tend to hang out high in the canopy for their food source. Appreciate you dropping by Timothy.

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      1. Yeah Haw. Rawhide! I mentioned how our Conure loves pancakes. He also loves coffee and ice cream We figure there must be birdie IHOPs, Starbucks and Baskin Robbins in tropical treetops.

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      2. Wow, that Parakeet…wait.. sorry Parrot is quite the connoisseur of human junk food! I wonder what they use for currency… pebbles, worms, caterpillars..how intriguing ha!

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      3. I think they have their own Psittacopasserae Crypto Currency. Beaker loves all the junk food they say birds shouldn’t eat. He’s 30 years old now. He’s ten years over the average captive lifespan for Conures and 24 years over their average in the wild lifespan.

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  2. I checked if we have this bird in Northern Utah and was surprised that we do have Summer Tanagers where I live but I have never seen these birds. All photos of this Tanager are remarkable! I especially liked the last one. It’s very special.

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    1. Glad to learn they are available in your parts Kaya. Now we just need to find one that is willing to reveal itself to you ha! As mentioned, that last one is my favorite as the colors came out dead on to their deeper hued red (vs the Scarlet) and seemed as if it was showing of its breeding coat for us. Keep your eyes peeled or listen for their calls – I usually locate them by their rather unique call (vs their song) – listen to the 7th sound bite (call) here to give you an idea of what it sounds like https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Summer_Tanager/sounds – once you hear one you will start picking it up all the time – then the hard part starts, actually spotting it ha! Appreciate you coming by Kaya.

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  3. Very nice crisp red photos. Though I did notice he was giving YOU the eye this time, unless Linda was standing over your shoulder. Faint yellow stripe on the wing and a bit on the throat. Both would be hard to notice in the field unless it sat very still for a long time.

    Best of luck to the pups at Nationals.

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    1. Yep, Linda was literally right over my shoulder – pretty sure she was doing a check for Snakes before we heading into the denser woods (note, she saw a snake in our front landscape yesterday and is still trying to shake off the near stroke event. I was running McNaughton and couldn’t “deal” with the situation so now she is panicked to take the dogs out front. The wing edge is definitely difficult to see. I think they have a yellowish downy undercoat that is a bit easier to see if the wind happens to blow their top feathers apart. There’s a companion post coming soon which will show that transition much better. Have a great rest of your week Brad…wait… have great days… not sure we have the concept of a week anymore ha.

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      1. Weekends are when all those other people (still employed) are at the restaurants, stores and other events. The comics are also in color on Sunday (for those that still take a newspaper).

        Good luck to Raven (and Linda).

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      2. Now that is a nice way to remember the weekend – color comics. Although any paper means it’s Sunday as that is the only day we get a physical paper these days… although it is about time for them to try to raise the rates and Linda cancels it for the umpteenth time. (followed in less than two weeks of “we want you back” and here is a steeply discounted rate – like Sirius XM, life is great when you realize their subscription counts for advertising price setting is more important to than the customer subscription fees.) Raven is ready to go although this venue is incredibly overwhelming – ~700 dogs competing across the various venues. I won’t hold fault with him if he gets nervous.

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  4. I do like their fiery red with just a touch of gold. And that gold is seen for sure in the immature males. I agree, that shot from the back with slightly lifted wings and fluffed shoulders is really a nice capture. Fingers crossed for Raven – have fun!

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    1. Quite classy don’t you think! Don’t tell anyone, but I’ll be covering the immature transition here pretty soon. Raven thanks you for the well wishes. This one will be hard on him as he has to go head to head with the larger dogs with just a slight time and a jump height handicap to try and level it – he of course isn’t pleased at all and usually let’s the judge have it halfway through his run so everyone in the arena can witness it (I just shirk back into the shadows when that happens – Linda is forced to deal with it in the ring hehehe). Appreciate the drop in Sam!

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    1. Although slightly subdued from the Scarlet variety, these Summers are definitely stunners – when you can get a direct line to them – most of the time I’m having to cut through tree limbs and vegetation just to get a glimpse – these were the most accommodating specimens I’ve encountered.. probably still tired from the migration. Thanks for coming by!

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