Well, we are back home from our trip up to Springfield, Ohio for the CPE Invitationals. In general a bit of a disappointment. With the exception of Ruger’s impressive showing in his first ever drag race event, the 4 days of showing (1 practice day and 3 days of actual competition), yielded only one qualifying run in Raven’s 9 attempts. He just seemed off and really wasn’t running at his usual pace. Also a lot more standoffish and too aware of the onlookers and hordes of other competitors to really get the job done. Definitely not a fan of having horse dirt between his toes. I felt bad for Linda as she was having to fight through a nasty cold from the moment we got there. Tough to run, much less coerce a less than enthused Poodle through an obstacle course.
Hit the jump to read more of about our blotchy friend!
Add to all that, the carrot for my cooperation was a planned birding outing with Ron about three hours north at Magee Marsh Wildlife Area. A last ditch effort to get some of the migrating Warblers we missed due to canceling the Dauphin Island trip back in April. Can’t seem to catch a break as huge storms came in the day we were supposed to arrive there. Ron got there a couple of days earlier to scope the place out. His assessment, with extent of the expected thunderstorms and the limited target birds he could find, it was probably best just to skip the required 3 hour drive. Raven showing bad, Linda coughing up a storm and throw in a thunderstorm to top it all off.. might as well head home. The good news is, I can finally get to promised follow up on the Summer Tanager post (link here).
If you recall, I mentioned in that post, the males go through a color change as they molt into their adult plumage. I also included a shot of a male that was kind enough to reveal the yellowish piping still on its wings. While on that same Dauphin Island trip in April of ’21, a couple of specimens came out to visit still in their juvenile cloaks. This particular one happened to be the second bird I tinned at Shell Mounds.
Linda had just let me out of the RV and was heading off to find a place to park (regular visitors to Intrigued already know what a shit show that was ha link here). First thing I noted was the mass of people standing shoulder to shoulder on the side of the road…more descriptive, the mass of maskless people standing shoulder to shoulder. Having to deal with the ridiculous lockdowns in Illinois (yes, Pritzker, we will NEVER forget), seeing that many people out together enjoying regular social interactions was quite refreshing. As they say, “Dorothy, we’re not in Illinois anymore”. Happily joined the other birders and started looking for targets.
Let the record show this also happened to be very first time I have ever seen a juvenile Summer Tanager. I’m doing good to simply spot the fully matured male hell bent on keeping itself out of The Beast’s view and those things should stick out like a bloody thumb in all the green vegetation. After spotting the Prothonotary, I noticed this little guy hanging out on a branch near the treeline. The contrast in lighting between the bright sun ahead of it and the shadows from the thick trees behind it was extremely frustrating – take a shot “crap”, tweak settings, take a shot “crap”, tweak again, shoot again, “crap, crap, double crap”. The lady next to me probably thought I had Tourette Syndrome (yes, there were more colorful words thrown in to the mix). Finally got things dialed in and got some shots I was happy with. Now the most important part – what the hell was it!?!
Decided to take the opportunity and enlist the aid of the nice older lady standing next to me. “Hey, god!#$%@$#% lady, what the f$@#%#@$%#n hell kind of $#%@#$%^$#$ bird is that for f’sake?” . Relax, just kidding – I am pretty sure that is how the lady assumed I was going to address her based on my prior mutterings. Rather in my always polite manner asked her if she happened to know what that multi-colored bird was that had caught my eye. “Sure, that’s a juvi Summer Tanager” – “you don’t say!”. Jotted down the new info and did some research later that night.
Not that I doubted her at all, she was absolutely correct. The degree of red varies as they mature from the yellowish/green also sported by the females. The two I saw at Shell Mounds that day had nearly equal amounts of red blotches on them – quite possible they were from the same brood. A few weeks ago, two Summer Tanagers showed up in our woods. One was a juvi that had molted the entire top half to red and the bottom half of the bird was still in the immature feathers. Will have to feature those tins in the future. Good thing I had that Dauphin experience or I’d be searching for weeks in the reference books.
For a young bird that was completely surrounded by some of the most gorgeous Warblers the New World has to offer, this one was definitely holding its own. In the shot below, you can really see that bright yellow-green piping on the wing feather edges.
Not a lot I can add in the area of interesting facts that were not covered in the previous post. Should probably mention they do eat insects other than Bees and Wasps, although that is an interesting trait of these Tanagers. I also might have left off the fact that the Summer Tanager is part of the Cardinalidae family (same with Western, Scarlet and Hepatic). Makes color sense as they definitely share the same red hues.
Will call it a post there. Need to get back to work on some new Halloween props for the 2022 Haunted Trail – starting to panic a bit, not much time before October will be upon us and I have a LOT of things still to build!
Take care everyone and hope you enjoyed reading about the juvenile Summer Tanager.