Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Bashful Western Tanager on the Tuolumne River

I know they are out there. I've seen them, fleeting glances as they flit among the treetops, studiously avoiding any opportunity to be captured on digital media. I'm talking about what is probably the most colorful bird found in our area (Wood Ducks notwithstanding): the Western Tanager (Piranga ludoviciana).  I had traveled all the way to Arizona and the Grand Canyon to catch sight of one a week or so ago, but then I was out walking along the Tuolumne River this morning, and saw that flash of color out the corner of my eye. It was feeding on elderberries on the slope covered by beavertail cacti.
I've seen them along the Tuolumne, but never got a good shot under decent light conditions. It could have been today, but the bird was feeling perfectly comfortable hiding behind the clump of elderberry leaves.

The tanagers will only be in the area for another month or so. Come winter, they will fly south into Mexico and Central America to spend the winter. Until then, I'll keep trying to capture an entire bird!

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