You had to see this coming. More Scarlet Tanager photos! When you get a cooperative Scarlet Tanager (this was the first one I’ve ever come across) you have to do more than one post about it …
This is the male Scarlet Tanager. Females are dull yellow. During the fall migration, the males will lose this spectacular plumage and look somewhat similar to females. This guy is just starting to turn … note the yellow spot on its head.
More photos to come …
Here’s the latest For the Birds column. Thanks for supporting http://www.BirdsofNewEngland.com
It’s a rare summer that goes by without me writing a column about catbirds.
Aside from robins, they are perhaps the dominant songbird of a New England summer. At my new home, chipping sparrows may give them a run for their money, but gray catbirds are certainly a reliable daily sighting.
Throughout much of the year, I feel, the catbird is overlooked. Of course, they are migratory so we don’t even see them during the colder months. Therefore, it’s understandable that we don’t think too much about them in the winter. I have seen a few over the years on Christmas Bird Counts, but that’s pretty rare.
That leaves spring, summer and fall for us to enjoy the gray catbird. In the spring we are overwhelmed with the number of songbirds passing through. Also, the birds that nest in our area start that process in spring, so that’s another demand on our attention. The catbirds arrive in spring to little fanfare.
In the fall our attention is similarly focused on the southward migration. It’s a glorious time of year when adult and first-year birds pass through our parks and backyards in big numbers. Hawks are the stars of the birding world in the fall, but great numbers of ducks and songbirds are also there for the seeing.
But summer is a different story. The migrants, other than perhaps some shorebirds, are nowhere to be seen. Even most of the birds that nest in New England are seen with less frequency in the summer. The nuthatches and titmice that overwhelm our feeding stations in the winter are certainly around but as ubiquitous as in other seasons.
American robins are so plentiful and common in the summer that they almost blend into the landscape. We certainly appreciate the robins, but they lose their “wow” factor after a while.
Suddenly it’s the catbird’s time to shine. They meow like cats from the bushes, sing conspicuously from obvious perches, chase insects along the ground and become one of our most common avian sightings. For a bird that is mostly dark gray, the catbird is a genuine looker. It also sports a black cap and a rusty red undertail covert, which is not always visible.
Many birds are named for what they look like and many birds are named for what they sound like. The gray catbird is named for both. The “gray” in the name obviously comes from the bird’s coloration. The “cat” part comes from the cat-like sound it often makes while hiding in the bushes.
Now is the time to take notice and appreciate this handsome, charismatic bird. The migrants will be back before we know it and catbirds will again be out of the spotlight.
Here’s another iPhone video of a Ruby-throated Hummingbird. I posted one last fall, too, but this one is much closer. Wait until the end to see the close-up, slo-mo.
Here are the final photos in the series Birds at the Birdbath. It’s not the most exciting photo so I’ve included in this post a few older birdbath photos I’ve taken over the years.
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Here’s a White-breasted Nuthatch visiting my feeder in fall 2015. In this web format, it appears fairly small, but it’s a neat photo when seen at a larger size.
This guy hung around the feeders and birdbath for much of the fall of 2015. To answer the burning question, I’m not sure what happened to the feathers on his head. Mites? Molt? Either way, the feathers likely grew back by the winter and the bird was fine.
Photo No. 2 of the birdbath series.
Eastern Phoebes are early migrant arrivals, showing up in early March to New England. This one visited the bath in mid-March.
Here’s the first of a few photos showing birds at the bath this spring. I took these photos and never really looked at them until now. Some are pretty cool.
Remember, if you have birdbaths in your yard, keep them clean and filled with fresh water every day in the summer. Otherwise it’s a breeding ground for mosquitoes, bacteria and other yucky stuff. Or just bring the bath in until fall.
Just realized I never posted these extra Green Heron photos. Here are some bonus photos from a previous posting about Green Herons.