Scarlet Tanager

About 9:30 this morning, the air felt very warm already, and humid. Big gray and white clouds blew from the south across a mostly sunny blue sky. A Great-crested Flycatcher called Breet from the treetops across the street, a Carolina Wren, Northern Cardinal, Tufted Titmouse and Chipping Sparrow sang.

Among the green leaves near the top of a tall pecan tree, a Scarlet Tanager gleamed like a small red sliver against the sky, its color so intense, to see it felt like a shock. A clear, glassy red with slashes of ink-black wings, formed into a smooth, compact shape.

It was quietly moving around in the leaves and hawking insects, flying up to catch one, settling back in a slightly different spot, but staying in the same treetop for three or four minutes before it flew away.

Later in the afternoon, the crisp, dry CHICK-brrrr calls of a Scarlet Tanager moved through the trees outside my office windows. Usually elusive birds, despite their flamboyant colors and brassy songs, they tend to stay hidden in foliage and deeper in the woods, so it feels lucky and unusual to have them so close around.

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