Summer Tanager

A Big Year is 25% planning, 25% skill, 25% execution and 90% luck . . . I know the math doesn’t work but the events of yesterday made me realize how big a role luck is actually playing.

I was in the field at dawn and spent about six hours looking for birds in Cape Elizabeth and Biddeford Pool. I saw some really great birds but didn’t see anything new.

American Oystercatcher
Red-necked Grebe

I got home mid-afternoon, made myself a salad for lunch (ok it was a ham and cheese sandwich), sat in my recliner and flipped on MSNBC to catch up on the day’s events.

Suddenly some movement from the trees outside the window caught my eye . . . something yellow.  At first I thought it was a Baltimore Oriole but the color was wrong.  I grabbed some binoculars and saw the bird had a huge bill for a bird that size.  This was a Summer Tanager!!!

Summer Tanagers are common summer birds across the American south but a real rarity in Maine.

I grabbed my camera and ran outside in my stocking feet (it had been raining) and took as many photos as I could.  I went inside to put something on my feet and when I came back out the bird was gone.

I texted Ingrid and she rushed home (fortunately school was out or I fear Ingrid would have put one of her 4th graders in charge of her class and left anyway).

It took about 20 minutes for us to re-find the bird but the Summer Tanager put on quite a show . . . flying from tree to tree in the backyard . . . feeding on Yellowjackets.

So back to the luck thing . . . I drive and hike all over the state of Maine . . . and then get a true rarity while watching television.  That’s all luck.

Maine Big Year Bird #311

1 comment

  1. By Mark -

    Congratulations on a great yard and year bird! Glad to see you did end up finding Hudsonian Godwit after many failed attempts and finding Marbled a week earlier. Will you be blogging about the hudwit? Thanks for sharing your adventures and good luck this last quarter of the year! Many realistic targets left?

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