Hepatic Tanager in Maine . . . On December 30

Tanagers are some of the planet’s most beautiful birds . . . often a combination of bright reds and yellows.  There are 386 species of Tanagers scattered across the world, but only four are found in North America. 

Scarlet Tanager

The most common of these is the Scarlet Tanager which nests throughout the northeast and into Canada.  

In Maine we also get occasional visits by Summer and Western Tanagers . . . one or two of these birds show up in Maine each year.  Ingrid and I had one on our feeders for three hours last spring.

Summer Tanager
Western Tanager

The rarest of the North American Tanager is the Hepatic Tanager . . . which summer in New Mexico, Arizona and small parts of California and Texas.  When fall arrives, this grayish red (male) and grayish yellow (female) bird heads to South America for the winter.

This morning, I checked Cornell University’s eBird sighting database. Yesterday there was a single Hepatic Tanager reported west of Los Angeles and another in Madera Canyon, Arizona . . . and oh yes  . . . a third in Stockton Springs, Maine!!!

This is believed to be the first Hepatic ever found in New England . . . and at the end of December . . . in Maine . . . in a snowstorm . . . remarkable.

Ingrid made the trip up to Stockton Spring, about an hour south of Bar Harbor and found the bird on a feeder after a half hour of searching.  When a rarity shows up in a community, birders will descend on the area and then spread out to find the bird.  Ingrid was the hero of the afternoon, re-finding it and calling the other birders in for a look.

With our Big Year beginning in two days, I decided to stay home and work on some software we plan to use on our adventure.  In retrospect, I made the wrong decision.

A Hepatic Tanager in Maine . . . On December 30 . . . remarkable.

Hepatic Tanager – April 2020 – Arizona

Follow our 2024 Big Year across the Continental United States by subscribing https://www.bigyearbirding.com/email-subscribe

1 comment

  1. By George Swedberg -

    I hate to make this claim, but I believe I saw 3 hepatic tanagers, 1 male and 2 females, in Moultonborough New Hampshire on February 26, 2024. I know this is way out of their normal range, but they were not scarlets or summers. They were quite close and I watched them for several minutes.

Leave Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Copyright 2024