Rare Bird: Summer Tanager flies a long way from home and lands in Vancouver

This really is a big year for bird fanciers in Vancouver.

That’s where a Summer Tanager, which normally is found in Central and South America in winter, has been spotted. This is only 6th on record for the province and a first for Metro Vancouver.

According to B.C. Rare Bird Alert, the wayward bird was first spotted on Dec. 9 at 8:25 a.m.

“Wendy Kahle found an immature male Summer Tanager (red feathers appear on the bird’s face and back) at her home near W 71st Ave in Vancouver,” the website notes. “The bird has a bill deformity but is coming to her suet feeder on her patio in her backyard. The bird can be viewed from the public lane (Avery Ave), behind the property. It may also be possible to view it from the Arbutus greenway.”

Bird watchers are now flocking to her neighbourhood.

Birders on the lookout for a rare Summer Tanager in Vancouver. Liron Gertsman/Facebook

Please do not trespass.

Immature Male Summer Tanager with bill deformity in Vancouver Melissa Hafting/BC Rare Bird Alert

The bird seems to be making itself at home.

“On Dec 11th, the bird continues in the same location as of 4pm and is being viewed by multiple observers from Avery Ave and the Arbutus Greenway,” the rare bird site notes.

Immature Male Summer Tanager with bill deformity in Vancouver. Liron Gertsman/BC Rare Bird Alert

Nature photographer Liron Gertsman is among those who has stopped by for a peek.

“Showing well for lots of observers right now,” he wrote on a rare bird Facebook group. “Eating non-stop, both peanuts from a feeder and berries from bushes.”

Summer Tanager in Vancouver is wowing bird watcher. Liron Gertsman/Facebook

Eventually, the bird will change hue.

“The only completely red bird in North America, the strawberry-colored male Summer Tanager is an eye-catching sight against the green leaves of the forest canopy,” according to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. The mustard-yellow female is harder to spot, though both sexes have a very distinctive chuckling call note. Fairly common during the summer, these birds migrate as far as the middle of South America each winter. All year long they specialize in catching bees and wasps on the wing, somehow avoiding being stung by their catches.”
Adult male Summer Tanager is bright crimson red. Lindell Dillon/Cornell Lab of Ornithology

This is where it is normally found, according to Cornell.

Safe travels home, little fella. You have a long way to go.

About the author

Recovering newspaper reporter.

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