7 May 2012: Summer Tanager

Piranga rubra English: A Summer Tanager in Man...

Summer Tanager

Today’s walk in the Central Park Ramble had 61 species including 17 warblers and 2 new birds for the season.

The bird of the day was the first one seen: a first-year male Summer Tanager just NW of Tanner’s Spring, originally found by Morgan Tingley about 15 minutes before the walk began. I ran from the Oven to respond to the text alert and called Starr once I was on the scene and hearing the bird. Soon I encountered Anthony Collerton, Chris Cooper and Anders Peltomaa who were actually seeing the bird and who showed me where to look. The views initially were from afar and into the light. As Starr arrived with the group, the bird moved to a nearer tree and briefly gave good looks before flying. It did not fly far, however, and Starr got it back.

Once everyone had seen it, we went up the hill and around and ended up getting the best views of all from near the top of the area by Summit Rock. With light hitting the bird from the front we could see that though it was mostly red it had yellow feathers on the nape, breast, and belly indicating first-year status.

Viewing conditions were very good this morning, a welcome change from the dark, cloudy mornings we have been having. The sun was breaking through; winds were negligible; and temperatures were near 60. Still it was less birdy than our prior two walks.

The viewing area on the NW side of the Castle offered good looks at a variety of birds: Prairie Warbler, Blackburnian Warbler, and Eastern Kingbird. The latter was catching and eating Red Admiral butterflies.

Among the 17 warblers that we had today were many of the more common ones that we don’t highlight, but still enjoy seeing. We had several good views of Magnolia Warblers, for example. We also had Northern Waterthrush, Northern Parula, Black-throated Green, Black-throated Blue, American Redstart, Ovenbird, Yellow Warbler, and our most frequently-seen warbler today, over 20 times, the Black-and-white Warbler. We still saw some Yellow-rumped Warblers, too, but they no longer dominate they way they did two weeks ago.

We had our first-of-season male Wilson’s Warbler at the Point.

Late in the walk Starr came upon a termite hatch just south of the Rustic Shelter that was attracting birds. It gave great views of a male Scarlet Tanager on the ground along with a variety of warblers.

Though we had no thrushes (other than Robins) last Wednesday, we saw four today: Wood Thrush, Swainson’s Thrush, Veery, and Hermit Thrush.

We had a number of instances today of birds flying after people — some not members of our group — pointed at them. Always try to describe a bird’s location verbally (though this is not always easy) as pointing at it will often spur it to fly away.

Highlights: (* means a new bird for the season)

  • Eastern Kingbird (3, one with great views by Castle)
  • Red-eyed Vireo
  • Veery
  • Blackburnian Warbler (2)
  • Prairie Warbler (close views by Castle)
  • Canada Warbler
  • Wilson’s Warbler* (The Point)
  • Scarlet Tanager (male, feeding on termite hatch, Rustic Shelter)
  • Summer Tanager* (NW of Tanner’s Spring)
  • Indigo Bunting
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