Summer Tanager Feeding Young

Investigation Pays Off

Birding buddy Mark and I were wrapping up our walk in the Morton Arboretum when we both spotted a Summer Tanager some distance away.  We were able to distinguish it from a male Cardinal because the head had no black on it.  Here’s what we were able to see from a distance.


Certainly not a very satisfying view.  I suggested to Mark that we finish the trail down to the parking lot and then walk up the road near where we last saw the bird.  Sure enough he was still there!  In fact it had some food in its beak and flitted back and forth between several trees.


As we stood there a couple of hikers joined us watching this brilliantly colored bird, then a biker stopped, a couple more walkers, and even a car pulled over to see what all the commotion was about.  Soon there were eight of us standing on the side of the road observing the Summer Tanager when all of a sudden it flew down to a dead bush not 15 yards away from us and we noticed that there was a tiny bird perched in it.  Exclamations of wonder and joy emanated from the group (a clicking shutter emanated from me).  It was a baby Summer Tanager and it couldn’t have been more than a day or two old.  It was very close to the ground, giving us a great view. Baby Summer immediately took note as dad approached.


The chick soon opened its beak as wide as it would go hoping dad would deposit some of the food in its beak inside.


Dad was happy to oblige, sticking his beak as far down baby’s throat as it could.


The group wandered on but Mark and I stayed, thinking dad wasn’t done yet; sure enough he was back with more in a few minutes.  Finally Mark and I headed out.  Karen went there later in the day and didn’t see the baby so we’re hoping it is OK nestled in the grass. It was such a thrill to watch this intimate interaction so closely.


Go birding.  Take pics.  Share here.  Repeat.


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