Date: 5/12/18 12:45 am
From: Mary Strasser <mrstrass...>
Subject: [wisb] Scarlet tanagers coming to backyard feeding station during cold spring rain
I had some unusual visitors to my backyard bird feeding station on May 11th during a cold rainy period. A trio of male scarlet tanagers started showing up to hunt on the ground under my feeders. They were clearly drawn in by all the other birds feasting in my partially wooded ridgetop backyard. I was initially surprised to see a tanager on the ground under a shrub, where it took shelter from the rain and watched the actions of other birds at my feeding station. Later in the morning, it was joined by another male tanager. In the evening, my husband and I were amazed to see a third male perched in a birch tree in the backyard, while the other two tanagers scoured the ground near my bird feeders and ate suet chunks I placed in a dish for them. I was able to get some photos showing the tanagers eating alongside an indigo bunting, rose-breasted grosbeaks, and a male cardinal. The tanagers looked almost fluorescent alongside the cardinal.
Other birds seen during the backyard feeding frenzy included a phoebe, catbirds, robins and bluebirds coming to a mealworm feeder. Goldfinches, house finches, chipping and song sparrows, a siskin, downy and red-bellied woodpeckers, a chickadee and a nuthatch were gathered around seed and suet feeders and on the ground below. The birds eagerly flew in whenever I restocked the feeders.
Starlings became a nuisance at the mealworm feeder at times and I sometimes had to chase them off so the native birds could feed. (The nesting bluebirds now recognize me as their friend when they need a guard at the mealworm dish.)

Mary Strasser (who considers the scarlet tanager to be her ”totem bird” since she’s had several close encounters with them through the years, including having one land on her)

In semi-rural southeastern La Crosse area
La Crosse County

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