By Mike Busch
Sunday morning, I glanced at my backyard in Brookhaven and noticed a beautiful yellow bird with a brilliant orange head near my feeders. I wasn’t sure of Identification but knew I had never seen anything like it. Worried that this would be a very fleeting opportunity I first shot through a glass window but the light rain and overcast made things tough. After getting a few shots, I went online and realized I was looking at an adult Male Western Tanager, the western version of the Scarlet Tanager seen in our area. Part of the Cardinal, Grosbeak and Bunting family, Western Tanagers are not normally seen east of Colorado as you can see in the map below.
I checked the Long Island Wildlife Photography page and the NY Bird List and found a few 2016 reports from Jones Beach and Bayside Queens. Apparently another showed up the same year in Lower Manhattan for the first time since 2008. I think it is fair to say it’s a rare bird for our area.
Luckily he stayed all day Sunday and was still there this morning, giving me a chance to get some images in better light and some slow motion video.