The scene is my backyard. Troutbirder lives in Bluff country i.e. the karst region of southeastern Minnesota.
We had our first rain of the spring last night. The morning was foggy, damp, windy and 40 degrees. Naturally, I had figured conditions were perfect for my first trout fishing outing, as the season had opened on Saturday. After breakfast I gathered my stuff together and was explaining my destinations to Mrs. T. It was right then, that looking out the living room window, I noticed a bright yellow mustardy bird in the oak tree. Not having a clue what it was, I ran and got my binocs. By the time I returned the bird had alighted on one of my platform feeders.
I did pick out a somewhat russet red tail. It's some kind of a thrush, I thought. It wasn't in the Peterson nor my Golden Field Guides. Actually, I couldn't find anything that remotely looked right! I looked at it some more. Maybe a indistinct eye ring? An elevated crest towards the back of the head? You can see I don't know all the technical jargon. It was time to call my birding mentor Mr. Science (Gary).
"It's robin size sort of fluffed up. Maybe an eye ring and a crest. Definitely mostly mustard yellow with a reddish tail. A strong looking beak "
"Did you check the flycatchers &/or phoebes?" he asked.
"I went thru my field guides twice," I noted.
"I'll be right over."
I grabbed my wife's camera and took a few shots before the bird took off. They were mostly blurred as apparently taking pictures through a screen is not a good technique. I was sure that by the time Gary arrived it would be too late and my pictures were basically yellow globs. Then the bird returned. "I've never seen this bird before," said the retired teacher who has been birding since high school.
"Me either," I nodded profoundly. Then he announced he had to go pick up his granddaughter but would "call John."
In the meantime, Mrs T (a non birder) had been perusing a book I had recently purchased on special at Sam's Club for $30. It was a table book, titled: The American Museum of Natural History Birds of North America. She had been observing this whole operation all morning. Casually handing me the heavy open book she sweetly asked while pointing, "Is this it?"
"Yup exactly!!!!" Ta Da!
John Hockema is one of Minnesotas top birders. He is in the top listing group for Minnesota at 377 sightings. Here in Fillmore County he tops the list with 236/272. Pretty impressive. He arrived about two o'clock with his brother. I showed them the basement window for now the bird was on the ground. "Wow. Unbelievable. It's way too early anyway. This might be a first. I will call a friend of mine. He has written the book on southeastern Minnesota birding and keeps records of everything," said John.
The call was made. It turns out that the bird had been identified in Forestville State Park in 1986. This apparently was the first sighting since.
Ladies and gentlemen may I present to you a female summer tanager. I hope you had an easier time figuring this all out than I did..... but it sure was fun.
I saw your post about it on the MOU listserv and was just waiting for you to blog about it. Great find and fun hearing about it.
Very cool! Congratulations!ReplyDelete
What a beautiful bird!! I'd have been just as stymied and without the sort of back-up you had!! :-) Yea Mrs. T!!ReplyDelete
Wow, he's so beautiful. What a great capture! Way to go.ReplyDelete
Well, I am not up on bird IDing, but I was amused as you gathered a crowd. Poor bird was no doubt traumatized. Imagine the stories she has to tell when she gets home. You won't believe all the people I saw today.ReplyDelete
I didn't have a clue,... but this sighting should put a "feather" in your cap! Congratulations! I really enjoyed the blow by blow and the photos,.. fun!ReplyDelete
Its always truly an uplifting event to come across a new bird in our own home range.ReplyDelete
I knew that's what she was only because I have a male who comes to my feeders and I have been watching and hoping to see his partner! WOW. She's beautiful. Lucky you!!!!ReplyDelete
Beautiful! These are hard birds to find!!!ReplyDelete
I loved the mystery! If I had my common sense cap on, I would have gotten it (maybe), but I left it at home. Great post!ReplyDelete
Wow - very nice! I've never seen one here, so I was at a loss, too!ReplyDelete
Ha, it only took one woman as opposed to a gaggle of men to identify this little bird. No surprise there:))ReplyDelete
I've never seen one here though and I couldn't have identified it either.
Wow! Way to go. Hope you are enjoying your fame. It would have been a lifer for me.ReplyDelete
Congratulations. I've never seen one. A rare siting--and in your own yard.ReplyDelete
I was going to guess pet canary, LOL!ReplyDelete
A very interesting blog :-)ReplyDelete
Wow, love this post-my grandmother was a birder. She could identify every bird native to our part of Arkansas and the Ozarks by sight and sound. I do so enjoy your blog. Being a retired social studies teacher myself, I think that every history teacher maybe has a bit of dna that yearns to solve a mystery, find something unknown, identify and educate, etc. Birding seems to do that for you.ReplyDelete
Magnificent. Birding is my hobby. I am always awe struck by the beauty of nature.ReplyDelete
Thanks you for visiting and commenting on my blog.
I am sure you added it to your list at Ebird too! Congratulations!ReplyDelete
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Excellent!!! I have never seen one of those...I thought it was a warbler of some sort! :)ReplyDelete
Fantastic! And backed up with great documentary photos. Is there a male around? With global warming, many species are moving north--it would be great if you had a nesting pair in the 'hood.ReplyDelete
Wow, what a beautiful bird to have visit your backyard and thank you Mrs T for id'ing it. I would have just loved to be able to see such a beauty. Lucky you and how great you have all the experts nearby....does this mean no troutfishing?ReplyDelete
Thanks for the visit to my blog! Always nice to hear from new fellow bloggers.ReplyDelete
I have to say, I didn't recognize it at first and I was on the edge of my seat till I got tl the end.
Now that was a real story for sure!!
What an exciting story that was!!! How much fun to have a newbie visit YOUR backyard and how lucky of you to have so many helpers to figure it out..Kudos to the Mrs!ReplyDelete
...so did you actually get any trout fishing in that day? lol!! or just some bird phishing?
Very cool! I couldn't peek...it was much more fun to watch the saga unfold. Congratulations!ReplyDelete