Summer and Scarlet Tanagers

Early this afternoon the edge of the woods suddenly became rather active with birds. It was a cloudy day, after rain last night and early this morning, and the trees and shrubs were still wet. A female Summer Tanager perched on a short dead stub of a pine to eat a long fat caterpillar. It took her several seconds to get it all down. The Tanager was mostly orange, with a reddish tail and some yellow, especially on the belly.

Meanwhile, a male Scarlet Tanager lurked in the shadows around the same area, already in deep-yellow plumage with black wings. Both were silent at the time, but much later in the day, after sunset, a Summer Tanager moved through the woods calling pik-a-tuk.

Two Tufted Titmice briefly struggled over possession of an insect with very large pale green wings that were still fluttering – I think it was a Luna Moth. One of the Titmice quickly won the struggle and perched on a branch to tear off the wings and then eat the insect body.

A Chipping Sparrow and a Carolina Wren foraged in low shrubs close to the ground, and two or three juvenile Chipping Sparrows cheeped persistently. At least two, maybe three Ruby-throated Hummingbirds hovered around grape vines and low shrubs, visited the butterfly bush blooms and the feeder and zoomed up into the lower limbs of the trees.

A pair of Cardinals, a Downy Woodpecker and a juvenile Red-bellied Woodpecker also were active in the same patch of pines and oaks.

Yesterday afternoon, just after we had finished lunch, we saw a Red-tailed Hawk fly into a pine tree a little deeper in the woods around this same area, carrying something in its talons. It sat on the branch and tore bites from whatever it was for five minutes or so, before flying deeper into the trees.

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