Female Scarlet Tanager

Early one afternoon, a female Scarlet Tanager flew to the shepherd’s crook that holds a large green fern on the rail of our back deck. We had just finished lunch and were sitting at the kitchen table, and I saw her from there, through the glass in the door. Muted yellow with olive wings, a relatively small thick bill, she looked pretty in an understated way. After a few moments, she flew to a table then to the top of an umbrella, to the deck rail – and away.

A male Scarlet Tanager still sings nearby now and then, but not constantly, and occasionally I hear their chick-brrrr calls in the trees, an expressive, electric call, a sound that’s more than a sound, a shivering, pleasant, confiding feeling.

The back deck seems to be a favorite spot for several birds – or maybe it’s just that it’s an easy spot for us to watch through the kitchen windows. Ruby-throated Hummingbirds come and go from the feeder frequently, and the moat in the middle of the feeder – filled with water to discourage ants – has definitely become a favorite watering hole for Tufted Titmice, Carolina Chickadees, American Goldfinch – and at least once, a Brown-headed Nuthatch. I’ve put a shallow clay saucer of water nearby on the deck, in the shade, but so far the small birds still prefer hanging upside down on the wire that holds the hummingbird feeder to sip from the little moat.

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