A Cold day for Birding

The outside temperature right now is 16 degrees and the wind chill is about zero.  But does that bother me??  You’re danged right, it does.  🙂  But not to worry as in a few days it will be back to our normal sixties weather.  I just decided that now is a good time to stay inside and get other stuff done.  Like writing another post.

Summer Tanager - male

However, I had a difficulty deciding what to write about, so I opted to just show some more of my older images.  Today those photos are of the Summer Tanager.  I took these pics nearly three years ago with my old Canon 40D.  I think that I had just acquired my Canon 500 f4 IS lens.

Summer Tanager - female

For a brief description of the Summer Tanager (Piranga rubra), I will refer to my bird guides.  The Sibley’s Guide to Birds, describes it to have redish or greenish flight feathers.  Found in mixed woods, near water.  Found in the Concho Valley from April to October.  What I like about this species is the diverse color.  The male is mostly red, the female is mostly yellow, and the juvenile is logically a mix of the two.

Summer Tanager - juvenile

Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, offers this information on the species. The Summer Tanager, Piranga rubra, is a medium-sized American songbird. Formerly placed in the tanager family (Thraupidae), it and other members of its genus are now classified in the cardinal family (Cardinalidae).[2] The species’s plumage and vocalizations are similar to other members of the cardinal family.

Their breeding habitat is open wooded areas, especially with oaks, across the southern United States. These birds migrate to Mexico, Central America and northern South America. This tanager is an extremely rare vagrant to western Europe.

Adults have stout pointed bills. Adult males are rose red and similar in appearance to the Hepatic Tanager, although the latter has a dark bill; females are orangish on the underparts and olive on top, with olive-brown wings and tail.

These birds are often out of sight, foraging high in trees, sometimes flying out to catch insects in flight. They mainly eat insects, especially bees and wasps, and berries. Fruit of Cymbopetalum mayanum (Annonaceae) are an especially well-liked food in their winter quarters, and birds will forage in human-altered habitat[3]. Consequently, these trees can be planted to entice them to residential areas, and they may well be attracted to bird feeders. Summer Tanagers build a cup nest on a horizontal tree branch.

The Summer Tanager has an American Robin-like song, similar enough that novices sometimes mistake this bird for that species. The song consists of melodic units, repeated in a constant stream. The Summer Tanager’s song, however, is much more monotonous than that of T. migratorius, often consisting of as few as 3 or 4 distinct units. It is clearer and less nasal than the song of the Scarlet Tanager.

The Summer Tanager also has a sharp, agitated-sounded call pi-tuk or pik-i-tuk-i-tuk.[4]

I hope you enjoy the information and the photos.  Click on any image ot see an enlargement.

18 thoughts on “A Cold day for Birding

  1. What a lovely and variable bird. Great photos and info as always. The first one put me in mind of my 4-year-old granddaughter. She has affected a habit of tilting her head in a coy sort of pose when the camera is aimed at her. Gave me a chuckle – thanks!

    I’m sorry to hear that you are experiencing such cold weather, but not totally surprised. My folks live in Mexico in the winter and tell me that this is the coldest winter they’ve experienced in the nearly 2 decades they’ve been going down there. Glad to hear you were back out and at it.

  2. Stunning Bob, just stunning! I’m surprised that your area was THAT cold! I’m sure it shocked a lot of residents down there! You’d think that living in Michigan, most people would expect the snow and freezing temperatures here, but they always seem to panic….

    • Holly, extreme conditions like we are experiencing are very, very rare. We just got the bottom tail of the gigantic storm that the rest of the country got. The sun shown today and I was able to get a few shots of some birds in the snow before the snow started to thaw. I will put them on my blog perhaps this weekend. Thank you so much for writing. I really appreciate you commenting.


    • I used to own a 20D, and before that an old digital Rebel. I just kept moving up. But this 7D is really the “cat’s meow”. Beats them all hands down. I don’t think I could do anybetter except to move to one of those high-end 1D Mark something. And those are two high priced for me. They just have more bells and whistles.
      Thanks for writing.


  3. These are beautiful shots! Both have particularly interesting backgrounds that really bring the contrasts and freshness in their colors somehow… I like the shot with the water especially.
    What a beautiful little bird!

  4. Really beautiful bird, Bob! great captures. I don’t blame you for staying inside! BRRR…I thought we had it cold today when it dipped into the 50’s. I sometimes forget the rest of the country is experiencing cold winter temps! And a pretty epic snow storm right now!

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