Wednesday, May 9, 2012

May 9: Scarlet Tanager

Allergies slammed me so hard last night that I slept about 12 hours and went in to work very late this morning. But thanks to the timing, I was in the right place at the right time. While at my desk preparing to leave, I happened to notice a black-and-white warbler spiraling a tree branch outside the window. I went out on the back porch with my binoculars to get a better look: a striking male in bright spring plumage, pausing every now and then to sing his "squeaky wheel" song. Nearby, a downy woodpecker climbed a birch, and a ruby-crowned kinglet chattered in the arbor vitae. The goldfinches kept up their usual cacophony in the background.

Then I caught a glimpse of red in the maple tree hanging over the river. Expecting to see the neighborhood cardinal, I gasped aloud when I looked through the binoculars and saw a scarlet tanager. While he isn't all-over red like the cardinal--his wings are black--his red is a pure, vivid scarlet, a vibrant color more suitable for the tropics than a foggy back yard in Maine. But there he was, poking around the freshly unfurled maple leaves as the river rushed beneath him. I hoped he'd sing, but he remained silent. Silent, but very visible, until at last I had to drag myself off to work.

Red as a stop light,
and who wouldn't pause to look
at such bright beauty?

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