Friday, April 30, 2010

Out The Office Window

There have been plenty of "out our office window" blog entries for the Audubon Center at Francis Beidler Forest, but yesterday we added another species.

Although Summer Tanagers (Piranga rubra) have been around the nature center for a number of years, the male often was singing high in the canopy and obscured by layers of leaves.  This year the male has been low in the trees around the nature center and has been gleaning insects or spiders from the window casings.  We cannot identify the prey items in his bill, but the fact that he has failed to eat them suggests that he will be taking them back to a female on the nest.  When not cleaning the exterior of the nature center, Summer Tanagers will raid beehives and paper wasp nests to capture adults and larvae.

The male Summer Tanager is red like a male Northern Cardinal minus the crest.  As Northern Cardinals are common, the Summer Tanager may be overlooked due to a case of mistaken identity.  However, the Summer Tanager's call "Picky-tucky-tuck" won't be confused with the Northern Cardinal's call or song.  The female Summer Tanager can be greenish-yellow over her body or greenish-yellow with orange blotches.  Side note:  The cover of Jeff Mollenhauer's book Birding South Carolina: A Guide to 40 Premier Birding Sites (available in our gift shop or at shows a Summer Tanager in molt.

Images by Mark Musselman

No comments: