Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Scarlet Tanagers

Evergreen Cemetery in Portland is one of the premier birding spots in Maine. It's an old fashioned, 'garden style' cemetery that was established in the early 1800s. There are 65,000 people interred there. Through huge, old trees lovely paths and trails meander around several ponds on 239 acres. This is warbler migration season, so the birding is intense right now. Thousands of birds of all kinds can be heard in the dense canopies of deciduous and conifer trees. I am not good at vocalization identifications, but I'm learning. It's very difficult to see through the leaves to identify what one might be hearing, and even more difficult to take great photographs. The birds are very flitty and hoppy by nature and even more so with migration and mate choosing underway. The top photo is a Beech tree where I was looking for a Bay-breasted warbler when I saw these Scarlet tanagers. My heart about blew out of my chest when first I saw this blaze of red streak through the leaves. I almost didn't believe what I was seeing. The male landed several times then eventually sat still. It's a good thing I was able to get this photo because otherwise, I would have thought some of that old chemical stuff from the seventies was leaking out of my liver or from the fat cells where my brain used to be.
His mate obliged as well. She is nearly the same color as the new Beech leaves. I haven't seen a Scarlet tanager in seven years. I took photographs then, but they are terrible. The bird was here at Totman Cove on a feeder. It was evening and it was raining. In those photographs, the bird is an orange blob. Scarlet tanagers migrate to South America for wintering. They breed here in these kinds of woods. They are insect eaters and spend most of their time up in the trees just as I observed them at Evergreen where they glean bugs from the branches. Evergreen is lovely. If you ever get the chance to go there, you should take it. Take a lunch. It's beautiful and relaxing and there is loads to see. You'll get a natural high just sitting there listening - no chemical enhancements from your youth required.

If you want to know more about Scarlet tanagers, check out allaboutbirds. There is a great recording of their song, too.
Thanks to Wikipedia and David Allen Sibley, The Sibley Guide To Birds for information.


  1. Your on a roll ...another kick out post!! I would have been excited to see a tanger to...it has been years since I have seen one...great photos they are so beautiful!!!

  2. Thank you, G.G.! They made my week those two birds.

  3. Such a beautiful bird! Excellent captures Robin!

    I love going to Evergreen Cemetery in the spring. The Warblers are hard to photograph. I can fill a 16 gig CF card while there and only get a handful of good photos. They flit around so much!


  4. One of my favourite local birding spots is a cemetery too. It is situated close to the coast and the cover in there is a magnet to warblers. Cracking photos as ever Robin.



  5. Vibrant colors which brings out the detail of the lovely birds! Love your beautiful daffodils, too!

  6. yourflittyandhoppyfriendMay 19, 2010 at 6:41 PM

    Thanks so much, each and every one of you for your comments and compliments!