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Saturday, May 3, 2014

Scarlet Tanagers and American Redstarts (Blog 188)

My Virginia spring gobbler season has been very unsatisfactory so far, as I have not punched a tag.  But the spring woods have been as glorious as ever.

Today, the closest I came to a gobbler was around 11:00 A.M. when two toms wandered by some 80 yards distant.  But for much of the day, I experienced the joy of watching some beautifully colored scarlet tanagers and American redstarts on a hunt in Craig County.

Last week, I heard my first scarlet tanagers of the year, but did not actually see one until today.  Most of the time this tanager is a creature of the tree tops, but today I observed several of these birds, which sport a scarlet body with black wings, feeding on the ground.  What's more, they were quite close and I watched them flitting among the leaf litter.

Several times, American restarts came by as well.  This bird, which has a song like a squeaky wheel, was busily going about eating insects from small trees.  The species' combination of orange and coal black is a rather unique color scheme - for sure there is nothing in the Virginia mountains that looks like it.

I also heard my first worm eating warbler of the year.  On a sad note, though, I have not yet heard a whip-poor-will or a chucks-will-widow.  Their population declines are very alarming.

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