By Ken Hooles, Daily Observer
Thursday, October 6, 2016 6:37:26 EDT PM
On Sept. 10, Mark Dojczman of Pembroke located a possible female Summer Tanager near Water Street and the entrance to Algonquin College parking lot. The last time one of these birds was located in our area was about 10-15 years ago in Deep River. That bird was a male juvenile Summer Tanager.
The Summer Tanager (Pirange rubra) is the most common North American Tanager in its range across eastern and southern United States. In Ontario, it is quite scarce and is considered a rare bird.
The male Summer Tanager has a brilliant red plumage all over its body with a slight tinge of black on its wings. Our Scarlet Tanager is a darker red and has very prominent black wings. The female of the species, like the one reported, has olive-green upper parts and orange-yellow under parts. It is hard to distinguish her from the female Scarlet Tanager. The first year juvenile male Summer Tanager is a mix of red and yellow greens.
The Summer Tanager is mainly found alone or in pairs. It is normally found near water and bottomland hardwood and riparian forests. It likes to forage for food at the middle level of trees where it picks food off leaves. It also likes to catch wasps and bees while in flight. While the wasp and bees are the Summer Tanager’s favourite food, it also enjoys other insects, grubs, caterpillars, and fruit.
This Tanager has one to two broods per year. The eggs of the Summer Tanager are incubated for 11-12 days by the female. The young leave the nest anywhere from 11-14 days later and are fed by both sexes.
The Summer Tanager is very common in deciduous and mixed conifer forests in the southern United States., but there has been a slight decrease in their numbers in the eastern United States due to habitat loss. It is a nice bird to observe, especially for our area!