Scarlet Tanagers: Birds from the Heavens


Nature it is exciting and a bit mind blowing when one is able to catch a glimpse of a Scarlet Tanager. These elusive birds live high in the tree tops and  generally nest deep into a forest’s interior to avoid becoming prey of high flying raptors. Looking from the ground one would assume that this bright red bird was a cardinal. They arrive in our area back from southern climes in mid May to early June to nest.

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Last  Sunday on Mother’s Day I spotted two males and my children saw one yellowish-orange female feeding on a swarm of insects. I pulled my jaw up from the ground and immediately grabbed my camera. My mother and I had a shared passion for bird watching. When one of us would spot something new, one of us would immediately call the other. In her 68 years on this earth she, nor I had never seen a Scarlet Tanager. Being a natural red head for most of her life and my second Mother’s Day after her death her I am convinced that she sent me these birds from the heavens. Thanks Mom.

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  1. I’d flip if I saw that bird out my window. He looks as if he’s been painted. Good story. When a mockingbird lands nearby I like to think that it’s my dad saying hi.

  2. I saw one on Sunday too! Also feeding on some strange flies that were all over the place that morning.

  3. SSP- I love mockingbirds and catbirds. they have the nicest calls, when they are mocking not mewing.

    I’m so glad someone else saw these birds as well. Maybe it a sign that we will see more. Now I need to cross off rose-breasted grosbeak from my list

  4. A rose-breasted grosbeak Holly! I need to keep my head up and my eyes open. I seem to be missing things.

    It’s not my favorite mockingbird call, but I always laugh when they do the car alarms sounds. We’ve got one nearby that’s been up late the last few nights singing his little heart out.

  5. I saw the rose-breasted grosbeak a few times at my childhood home in Central Jersey. But that was many years ago and after a while they disappeared. The closest thing color-wise that I’ve seen around here is the downy woodpecker: black and white with a patch of red on the back of the head.

    Eagle-eyed (sorry) NJ Transit riders may also spot the red-winged blackbird in the swamps of Secaucus. Look for a small red and yellow stripe on the wing of the otherwise black bird.

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