Another Bird Surprise

We just never know what’s going to happen each day. I have a cold so I didn’t go to church today. I thought I’d stay home, read a bit, listen to the sermon when my husband brings it home on CD…just a quiet uneventful day. Uneventful is welcome sometimes, but today’s unexpected event was great.

I was reading a book when I remembered I needed to take my vitamin C and echinacea for my cold. It’s a good book and I didn’t want to put it down, but when I came to the end of the chapter, I did. So, I was standing in the kitchen with pills in one hand and juice in the other and this bright yellow bird flew up outside the window. He landed in the shrub where I have the hummingbird feeder. (Yep. The feeder is up in February. We have had a Buff-bellied Hummingbird here since late December. We had never seen one, so this has been a real treat!)

The first thing I think when I see a yellow bird is “warbler” but this was not a warbler. He was too big and he wasn’t flitting about like warblers do. He had a little bit of orange on his face, black wings with two wing bars and a notched black tail. He also had black on his back but yellow just above his tail. I kept thinking one of my neighbor’s birds must have escaped from the big cage on his front porch. But he has parakeets and this was nothing like a parakeet. It was nothing I’d ever seen before either.

I wanted to run and grab a bird book, but I didn’t want to leave the window. I needed to keep studying him. I noticed the wing bars were two different colors. The top bar was yellow and the bottom bar was white. I figured that would be the really distinctive characteristic that would identify him. Turns out it was.

I had a Western Tanager. If you live where those birds live in abundance, you might think, “so what?” but we don’t normally see them here. I’m in Southeast Texas, not far from Louisiana and not far from the coast. Western Tanagers are way out in West Texas, about 900 or so miles away. According to my books, they only rarely show up along the coast in the winter. I learned that he eats insects and fruit. I have some dried fruit on my platform feeder and will put some fresh bits of pear out tomorrow. Sure would be great if he would come back so I can try to get a photo. If not, I have this awesome image burned into my brain. How cool!