Thursday, July 20, 2017

Western Tanager and Tourons at the North Rim of Grand Canyon

Photo by Mrs. Geotripper
Being in a national park can cause people to do things they normally wouldn't in any other place. For example, if you ever have the privilege to explore Yellowstone National Park, you will encounter people who are fine drivers everywhere else. But if an elk or bison is seen at the side of the road (or Heaven forbid, a Wolf or Grizzly Bear), they will screech to a stop, disregarding all other traffic, and get out to take pictures. It doesn't matter if they are blocking traffic, others will get out to see what the commotion is about anyway. After awhile, a ranger has to come along and break up the traffic mess. No wonder they've secretly adopted the term "touron". But at least I never do that kind of thing...
Can you see what caused me to stop in the middle of the highway? Photo by Mrs. Geotripper

I was at the North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park these last few days, and there were thankfully no tourist traffic jams, the reason being that there were hardly any tourists (the North Rim gets only about 10% of the park's visitors; it's one of the great charms of that section of the park). And so it was that I was the one trying to start a traffic jam...and it wasn't for a wolf, or an elk, or a bison. No, it was for a bird. It happened to be the only bird that would have caused me to hit the brakes and stop in the middle of the highway: it was a Western Tanager (Piranga ludoviciana).
Photo by Mrs. Geotripper
There were actually two tanagers, a male and a female. It says something about the relative drabness of the female that neither me or Mrs. Geotripper caught a shot of the girl. We were under pressure though; we weren't stopping traffic, but we were on a blind curve. We grabbed our cameras and snapped as many shots as we couldn't in 45 seconds or so.

I was glad we got the pictures we did, but they can never add up to the tanager we saw back home in California on the Clark Fork of the Stanislaus River in the Sierra Nevada a few years ago. You can check out those pictures and a short video at this link:

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