It seems absurd for me to get Western Tanager before Summer Tanager, but so it goes, like my man said.

The parallels between this bird and my last passerine lifer, the Scott’s Oriole, are eerie. Both, having wound up on the wrong side of the Continental Divide due to some sort of migratory map-reading error, found themselves in Manhattan. Both looked around and betook themselves to parks where, to compensate for the relative lack of insect foods, they took to pirating meals from the wells of Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers. Both of them took advantage of this bounty by sticking close and staying regular, which meant that both of them were absurdly easy to twitch, the more so as both of them picked locations in easy walking distance of subway stops.

If only we could teach Tufted Ducks to do that.

I hadn’t birded Central Park since I changed jobs, and I wouldn’t say I really birded it today either – I was the bad naturalist today, I came in and got my target and got out, like a Front 242 song. But at least I did a proof-of-concept on the kind of subway shenanigans that would ensue from a Brooklyn-to-Central-Park-to-Astoria commute. Let’s just say that I’m going to have to get up pretty early in the morning this spring.

The Tanager hirself was a sweetheart, with big bold wing-bars and a nice light head. Zie also had what struck me as a fairly light-colored beak, but it might have been the sun. Now that I think about it, I can’t remember ever having really looked at Tanager beaks before – usually when I see one it’s just like “Whoa! Shiny!” See? Like I said, bad naturalist.

Anyway, welcome to my life list, #251.

American Robin Turdus migratorius
Northern Cardinal Cardinalis cardinalis
Blue Jay Cyanocitta cristata
Common Starling Sturnus vulgaris
White-throated Sparrow Zonotrichia albicollis
Western Tanager Piranga ludoviciana *LL
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker Sphyrapicus varius
Northern Junco Junco hyemalis

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