A few days before Christmas, my parents got an early Christmas present – a rare Western Tanager showed up in their backyard. Well, the bird must have been in the Christmas spirit because he showed up again in the backyard during Christmas dinner. You know you live in a family of birders when the pies are being cut and someone yells, “There’s the bird!” and everybody runs to the doors/windows. So I got to see and photograph my lifer Western Tanager.
This Western Tanager is a big fan of American Beautyberries. He sat quietly on the bush eating the purple berries one at a time. Then he hopped to the ground and ate some more berries that had fallen. I guess I’d be hungry if I’d accidentally flown across the US, too. This bird’s normal range extends from California to the western half of Texas. I wonder what brought him all the way to Florida.
While the bird was foraging behind some bushes, I was distracted by a Ruby-throated Hummingbird high in the neighbor’s oak trees. The bird was darting in and out of the top branches. When I blew up the pictures, I could see the insects that the tiny bird was snatching out of the air.
A White-winged Dove perched a little lower in the tree. My parents have both White-Winged Doves and Eurasian Collared Doves in their backyard. That’s a fun change from the normal Mourning Doves in my backyard.
The Western Tanager showed himself one more time, perching in the beautyberry bush again. It was amazing how camouflaged his bright yellow feathers were against the yellowing leaves of the bush. A few more shots, then the happy photographers headed back inside for some pie. A rare bird is an excellent Christmas present – I guess Santa decided that I wasn’t on the Naughty List after all! ;-)