Red and Black on Gray

Some days, like today, are gray and rainy.  Some birds radiate their brilliance regardless. In my seemingly never-ending quest for a Wood Thrush lifer, currently a heard-only bird, I came across a couple of dapper and melodic fellows this morning that can brighten any day.  First up is the Rose-breasted Grosbeak.

Rose-breasted Grosbeak

Rose-breasted GrosbeakNext is the ever-lovely Scarlet Tanager.  It’s hard for me to comprehend that I’ve seen both Western Tanager (more on that later) and now a Scarlet Tanager in the same week.  Both are incredibly beautiful birds.  Though the Scarlet Tanager is locally uncommon and the Western Tanager is rare state-wide, I’ve actually seen more Western Tanagers in my life.  Today’s sighting on Timber Lake Road north of Sibley State Park was only the third time I’ve seen a Scarlet Tanager, and I got my best ever looks.  It is such a hard bird to find.  Even if it is present, it favors the canopy and is not always conspicuous.  With Scarlet Tanager sightings you can have two but never all three of the following: a motionless bird, a conspicuous bird, good light.  With a bird as good-looking as SCTA, the first two are often good enough.

Scarlet Tanager

I’ve learned the Scarlet’s song which helped me track this one down this morning.  Identifying a tree-top loving bird by just its audio is a must this time of year with the trees fully leafed out.

Scarlet Tanager

Seeing and photographing a Scarlet Tanager was a major summer birding goal of mine.  I just got done with school on Friday.  Not a bad start.

Scarlet Tanager

More time shall be spent this summer in the deciduous woods in the northern parts of Kandiyohi County.  The quest shall continue for finally seeing a Wood Thrush and getting the trifecta of perfect SCTA viewing conditions!

2 thoughts on “Red and Black on Gray

  1. For a long time, I suspected that Scarlet Tanagers were fictitious. Then I saw one at eye level, and another about ten feet up. That was two years ago. Just one more at home since then. The campgrounds at Lake Carlos SP had a friendly one.

    Is your Wood Thrush audio lifer the song (awesome) or just the call (cool lasers)?
    My only and lifer is just a fleeting glimpse as it flew away from me after I finally figured out what it was from the “lasers” call. Washington County, a few miles south of William O’Brien State Park, about a quarter-mile from the border (St. Croix River).

    Do you ever bird Glacial Lakes SP? It’s not very far from you.
    We’re going cabin-camping this weekend. There may be some easy lifers hanging out there, plus some more not-since-childhoods.

    • Thank goodness they aren’t too good to be true. I didn’t get a SCTA fix last year–that cannot happen again.

      I have heard the beautiful song of the Wood Thrush on a couple of occasions. Now I just need to see its dull-by-comparison body.

      Never birded Glacial Lakes SP though I’ve visited it once. Looking at GL SP’s bird checklist, it looks like you could possibly get some good ones. A cooperative Yellow-billed Cuckoo could cause me to zip up there.

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